Group of Residents Seek to Rename East Boston Camps at Town Meeting
The warrant article would combine the East Boston Camps with the nearby Stepinski Parcel to create a new piece of land called the Westford Woods.
While much of the focus in the leadup to the March 23 Annual Town Meeting has been focused on the proposed gun bylaw amendment and the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, one group of residents is hoping to draw some attention to a cause they believe will give back Westford one of its most notable landmarks.
After it was tabled at last year's Town Meeting, this year advocates of what is now Article 31 are hoping to take the East Boston Camps, combine the property with the neighboring Stepinski Parcel and have the new parcel be known as the Westford Woods.
The two pieces of property, roughly located along the Stony Brook between the Stony Brook School, the American Legion Fields, and Stony Brook Acres, were purchased by the town in 2005 for a combined $16.5 million.
Article 31 advocate Robin Connell's believes the change will more accurately reflect the land's history from its time centuries ago as a habitation for native Algoquin tribes to housing a 17th Century ice house in addition its role as a rural summer camp for inner city children from East Boston several decades ago; indicating that the whole of its history belongs to more than any one point in time.
"My parents, grandparents and I grew up in the town of Westford, and I can almost see wanting to honor Hyams Foundation (who sold the East Boston Camps to the town)," said Connell. "In my recollection, it doesn't feel like (East Boston) did much for the town, it feels like the roles should be reversed. Westford was a great host and it feels like East Boston should be naming something after Westford."
Advocates also hope a name change can help residents realize that they own the land and are paying $100 a year for a bond used in the purchase of the land that will continue until 2018.
"I talk to neighbors who don't even know what the East Boston Camps are, or that they're located in Westford, let alone that the taxpayers own the land," says Article 31 advocate June McMorrow. "It's like when you buy a house from someone who's lived there for 30 years, but you don't take their name off the mailbox."
Despite the name change, supporters of the article hope if the measure is passed that a marker indicating the history of East Boston's role on the land can be placed on the property.
Supporters also indicate that the measure has no connection with recent contractual issues with Guard Up!, who has rented portions of the East Boston Camps each summer for the past several years.
More information on Article 31 can be found on the the Facebook page of its supporters.
More information on the East Boston Camps themselves can be found on the East Boston Camps website.
CORRECTION- 12:46 p.m.- Connell specifically said "wanting to honor", in regarding to Hyams Foundation quote, we've updated it above.