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Conservation Commission Okay With Taking Vose Parcel

The matter now goes back to the Tax Possession Sales Committee, which meets on May 17, and appears that it will eventually go before Town Meeting.

 

In the latest chapter of the ongoing Bruce Freeman Rail Trail parking issue, the Conservation Commission agreed to help place a conservation restriction upon the controversial Vose Parcel.

After a recent discussion by the Tax Possession Sale Committee (TPSC) on how to dispose of the property drew a lengthy debate, a delay was made to see if the parcel could be transferred from its current status as a TPSC property to the ownership of the Conservation Commission.

The idea was brought forth as a way to ensure that the town could keep the property in a natural state while ensuring that people would not congregate near the property per the neighbors’ desires.

“This is a happy solution for all sides, but we’d need to get a legal opinion,” said Conservation Commission member Marilyn Frank. “(Conservation restrictions) are very hard to undo.”

While the transfer would still have to go to Town Meeting, drawing a potential amendment that would defeat the purpose of limiting parking in the area, there was some concern initially over whether the Conservation Commission actually wanted to take the property.

“I just want to make sure that we’re taking this parcel because it has conservation value,” said Conservation Commission member John Cunningham. “I understand that it would have benefit to the neighbors, but I want to make sure that if we take it, conservation value is the reason.”

Westford Conservation and Resource Planner Bill Turner said that there may be difficulty getting a conservation restriction with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation due to the small area of the parcel, which is only an acre in size.

Eventually, the Committee unanimously approved to provide a letter indicating that they would be interested in obtaining the property with a conservation restriction from the TPSC, which has indicated it will discuss the Vose Parcel again on the agenda for its next meeting on May 17.  

Dick May 14, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Would this turn into a "sweetheart" deal for some privileged parties like EBC, where there would be restrictions to the general public?
Kathleen Spaeth May 16, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Dick, if the property is transferred to the Conservation Commission than there will be "Conservation Restrictions" placed on it. I agree with Conservation Commission Member John Cunningham that this piece of property should only be taken if they can show proof of its Conservation Value. I also wonder if it is being taken to "quell" the abutting neighbors so they will stop complaining, and thus limit this piece of properties use as a parking lot for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. This is called "Spot Zoning" and is illegal! Why they abutting neighbors don't want any of those horrible Bruce Freeman Rail Trail users, including myself, congregating on this piece of property! Oh my!!
Dick May 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM
My concerns stem from the C.C.'s lack of restrictions, and enforcements that were established early on at the East Boston camps when the town purchased the property.
Kathleen Spaeth May 16, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I keep hearing, and reading, about the Conservation Commission's "lack of restrictions, and enforement" for the East Boston Camps. Has anyone formerly requested a hearing in front of the Conservation Commission to discuss their concerns? I only moved her 5 1/2 years ago and I don't know all the EBC Conservation Commission Restrictions (or lack their of). The proposed taking of the Vose Parcel by the Conservation Commission is completely different, but I understand your comments.
Dick May 16, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Restrictions,or lack of them have discussed many time over the years. It depends which way the wind is blowing at any time what the rules, and regulations are,or are not. Sorry,if i sound cynical,but i have never got the same answer twice to my questions when i have asked.
Kathleen Spaeth May 16, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I understand and you are not "cynical"! Sometimes when you have to keep asking the same questions, over and over again, and then you get different answers ("depending on the winds directions") it can be very frustrating!! FYI, the Westford Conservation Commission must have written, deeded, and recorded Conservation Restrictions for the EBC Property. Do you have a copy of these? Have you cited these Restrictions with your questions? Andrew, has the Westford Patch ever written an Article on the concerns that many of the Westford populace has on what is is going on at the EBC? Have you ever asked questions of the Conservation Commission about these Conservation Restrictions (and the lack of enforcement there of)?
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 11:07 PM
http://westford.patch.com/articles/resident-spontaneously-cleans-up-east-boston-camps and http://westford.patch.com/articles/town-responds-after-east-boston-camps-tractor-accident Not sure if we did anything on folks wanting to walk their dogs while tenants are in there, we did a couple on Guard Up and a couple on other events. Next time I'm at a Cons Comm. meeting, I'll ask. Currently at ZBA.
R Gagnon May 17, 2012 at 01:14 PM
There is a Conservation Restriction for EBC that spells out the intended uses for EBC as well as those uses that are prohibited. A couple things one would take away from it after reading the CR would be maximizing public access and minimizing vehicular traffic. The ConsCom allows practically unlimited vehicle traffic during the camp season while restricting public access during camp season. Completely out of touch with the intent of the CR. The only camp provider that supposedly demands access restrictions is GuardUp!. That is the out of town, for profit commercial entity that leases the publicly owned camp property during summer months. The Westford Rec department does not require access restrictions while running their summer camp programs yet the ConsCom puts them in place anyway. The ConsCom can and does make up the rules as they go along. Since the ConsCom is an appointed commission rather than an elected one, the people who want to be able to access the whole property all year have no recourse in this matter. Well, that's not entirely correct. They could drive the effort to turn over the entire Board of Selectmen in favor of people who will direct the ConsCom focus their attention on matters related to conservation of open spaces and natural resources or appoint people who will. Good luck with that.
Kathleen Spaeth May 17, 2012 at 02:05 PM
R. Gagnon, I understand your concerns and your frustrations! How about if you send a letter to the Conservation Commission and request that they place the EBC access (and the Conservation Restrictions) on an upcoming agenda? Then circulate (and advertise) this meeting to any and every one (including using the Westford Patch). I bet there are so many people (including you and Dick) upset with the Conservation Commission's duplicity and lack of following their "vague" Restrictions and you will get a nice turnout (that will make the Conservation Commission sit up straighter and pay attention). I realize that they are an appointed board, but you have a right to speak up on each person that has their name put forth to the Board of Selectman for appointment. You (Dick, I, and everyone else) can make a change and difference, but we must work together within the "system" that has been devised! Also, do you want to be appointed to the Conservation Commission (or do you know anyone who has the qualifications (yes, you should have these) to be appointed)? I realize that this all takes work, organizing, and time (but a "grassroots movement" can make a difference (sometimes incrementally) to get the changes so badly need addressing the EBC access and Conservation Restrictions. Yes, perhaps I am an "Idealist", but I have seen it in action in other towns (and participated too)!
R Gagnon May 17, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I was one of 5 people who recently applied for a seat that was vacant on the ConsCom. While I did get some support from a member of the ConsCom and one of the BoS members, the person who was appointed by the BoS was a gentleman who was on the East Boston Camps advisory board and has a track record of being in step with the ConsCom's desire to run summer camps rather than focus on conservation issues on the old EBC property. The ConsCom recommended him to the BoS. The BoS them appointed him to the empty seat. I'll not speculate as to why but rather allow you to arrive at your own conclusions as to why they chose him. I have also spoken up at ConsCom meetings in support of maximizing public access to EBC year round and offered some ideas that would help the activities be more in compliance with the intent of the conservation restriction while helping to maintain an acceptable level of safety and security for the camp kids at the GuardUp! camp. I was politely thanked for my input and invited back to a future meeting when EBC access is to be discussed. I predict EBC access will not be put on the ConsCom agenda at any future meetings and they will continue to do what they have been doing right along.
R Gagnon May 17, 2012 at 04:42 PM
To follow on a bit from the last post, I was the one who reported the diesel fuel spill to the MA DEP last December. The Fuel spill happened late in the afternoon of December 6. I heard of it from someone who saw it that evening. On the morning of December 7, I walked up and found where it happened and notified the fire department. Around noon on the 7th, I went back to see if anything was done to clean it up and found some speedy dry on the paved section where the pill occurred but not much more. Bill Turner of the ConsCom was there and said George Fletcher told him he spilled only about 4 gallons. Judging from the smell which is still detectable now and the fact that the spill went on for about 1.750 feet, I thought the amount of spilled fuel was much more than that. So I called the state DEP that afternoon. The rest is history. So, ya, I have been involved in EBC issues to the extent that I am allowed. One of the biggest challenges is getting the ConsCom to hold George Fletcher, the EBC caretaker, responsible for what he does and does not do in his $24K/year caretakers job. I have been vilified by friends of his and a police officer wanted to meet with me to discuss my vocal criticism of George's job performance. And that's not the first time the police have approached me. Several years ago an officer was at my house to discuss my efforts to increase public access to EBC during the summer months and be sure I understood where I was and was not allowed to go.
Dick May 17, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Kathleen, Rich is telling the "skinny" on the dealings on EBC. .......Frustration? You have no idea. The 'good ol' boy' policy is in effect here. I suggest you get a copy of the original rules and regulations that were in place when the Town bought the parcel,and the R&R today.

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