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.

R Gagnon February 21, 2013 at 03:17 PM
To correct one more erroneous point that you made JJ, George did not report anything. George drove his tractor away from the spill and stench he left in his wake and didn't say a word. I reported it to the WPD at first light and they notified the WFD. I met a rep from the FD and showed him where the spill happened while George was probably still snug in his bed. Again, George did nothing about it. Well, George did take some action. When his insurance company covered only part of the cleanup cost, George went to the ConsCom with his hand out for what the insurance did not cover. Of course, his good freinds voted (1 in opposition) to pay George the balance. Its all a matter of record.
Martin Luther February 21, 2013 at 08:36 PM
Mr Gagnon, you should abandon the vendetta that you have been carrying over with George Fletcher. I have been told that you were warned by the WPD to tone it down because your overzealous activities at EBC. Your jumping to the state rather than the local conservation cost the town money even if it did come out the ConsCom slush found. BTW I am impressed by your lack of veracity and inability to understand cause and effect. A broken twelve hour clock is correct twice a day, in your case you live in a parallel universe that allows to be wrong all of the time and hallucinate that you are right. Are you related to Barrack, Biden or Pelosi? You seem to share common DNA.
R Gagnon February 21, 2013 at 10:12 PM
So, JJ. Basicly, you got nothing. I don't have a vendetta against George Fletcher. I do have a problem with a town contractor who damages publicly owned property and fails to take responsibility for it. I also have a problem with a contractor who fails to provide the services that we are paying him for. I already offered to show you all of the proof that I have to support my allegations. Documents and pictures going back to 2006. Do you want to see them or would you rather hide behind your keyboard and sling insults and unsubstantiated inuendos? And yes, a police officer wanted to talk to me about hurting George's feelings. But I turned him away without ever having the discussion. You see, there is this little thing called "the color of law" that a good freind of yours was kind enough to draw my attention to. Officer Crotaeu obviously is familiar with it too because he didn't pursue the issue any further. And just hypotheticaly, if a contractor that you hired to do work at your house did damage to your property, would you pay his insurance deductable for him like the ConsCom did for George? I don't know where you think the ConsCom gets their funds but the last time I checked, it came from our tax money. Now, back to the discussion at hand. I believe the name "Westford Woods" without any comemoration to East Boston Social Center or Westford's favorite son, George Fletcher would be a great idea!
Sam February 21, 2013 at 11:21 PM
JJ remember back to the TM when we OVERPAID for EBC. " this is not going to cost taxpayers one dime". What a joke. Rename the property, end all rentals and let the Town that pays for it enjoy it. As far as RG goes he is accurately describing the Fletcher situation. Just because you have lived in town forever does not automatically make you a hero. Someday someone will try and sell Jefferies as the same. Another joke.
Local February 22, 2013 at 01:12 AM
JJ based on the stances you take has readers think you would have sided with far right red fiscal tight republican good old boys who voted against civil rights bills in the 50s and 60s and those who still don't support the same equality fir our fay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Let's be progressive and make Westfird the multicultural tolerant place it can be by working together
Sam February 22, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Now that is unfair and untrue.
Martin Luther February 22, 2013 at 04:32 AM
Local!!! You must belong to the 47% group totally dependent on handouts from government at the local, state and federal levels. The good old boys that voted against civil rights in the 50s and 60s were Democrats not Republicans. You choose whatever pseudo brother and sisters that you want, I prefer the advice of the Holy Book. Sorry Local that your hero, Teddy Kennedy, could not buy passage to Heaven and wound up in the hot place.
Martin Luther February 22, 2013 at 04:41 AM
In the past, I invited you to meet me at the Westford Police station to review your record. You have chosen to ignore my invitation and keep making false statements in order to boost your depleted ego. BTW If George Fletcher is in your words "Westford's Favorite Son", I do not understand your opposition to renaming EBC to "Fletcher Memorial Woods." BTW I have been told that the money used to make up the insurance shortfall in the incident in question came from remediation funds not taxpayer funds. Of course, if you had not jumped the line of action by going whining to the DEP , the cost to clean up the spill would have been covered by the insurance carried by Mr. Fletcher. In my opinion, you should reimburse the ConsCom for the excess cost.
Local February 22, 2013 at 07:24 AM
When you say you prefer the advice of the holy book...what does that mean relevant to equal rights for gays and lesbians? Fact: Democrat LBJ pushed (as Senate Majority leader and Pres) FOR Civil Rights legislation and GOP good ol boys like Nixon and Thurmand opposed it, open a 5th grade textbook. The southern wing of the Democrat party often opposed CR bills but overall the Dems helped move us closer to legal racial equality. So anyone who isn't far right is dependent? Talk about mindlessly regirgutating the political rhetoric........
R Gagnon February 22, 2013 at 11:59 AM
JJ, when I refer to GF as "Westford's favorite son", its just me being facetious and poking fun at the situation. I understand the lights are a bit dim for you but I thought you would at least get that not-so-subtle poke. The job description for the caretaker position at EBC was custom written so that GF was the only person who could possibly qualify for the job. It was a gift from the beautiful people of Westford (as opposed to us 50 year or less residents) to their "favorite son". By the way, I have a copy of that description and documented proof of all of the duties he does not do every day. If I had an employee who did not measure up to his job description the way GF doesn't measure up to his, I would have terminated his employment for cause a long time ago. If you want to see the records, I'll meet you on neutral turf. The police station, being the home office of one of the officers who was willing to encroach on my 1st amendment rights in order to defend "Westford's favorite son", is in no way neutral turf. I'll be happy to bring my evidence to a very public but neutral place like Dinkin Donuts or some other non-interested location. As far as the money that the ConsCom used to pay the contractor's insurance deductable, it is public money. It belongs to the Town of Westford collectively. It is not the property of any individual sitting on the ConsCom and should not have been gifted to the contractor who was so demonstrably negligent.
R Gagnon February 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM
And you conveniently neglected to answer my question (nice dodge) so I'll ask again. If a contractor that you hired to work on your property damaged your property, would you compensate him for the deductable that the insurance company did not pay? Just a simple yes or no answer would suffice. Now, back to the discussion at hand. I believe the name "Westford Woods" without any comemoration to East Boston Social Center or Westford's favorite son, George Fletcher would be a great idea!
R Gagnon February 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Just a thought JJ, there is another genuinely neutral teritory. The internet. For short money, I could buy a domain name and upload all of the documentation I have collected over the past 7 years then circulate the URL here, the westfordforum and other places so you could view it at your liesure from your safe spot, hiding behind your keyboard. I've already mulled over the idea some time ago. I decided not to becuase there are names of good albeit misguided people who could suffer various levels of embarassment, depending on their role in this scam called East Boston Camps Caretaker. But, if you would like me to ... Your call. Just let me know. Now, back to the discussion at hand. I believe the name "Westford Woods" without any comemoration to East Boston Social Center or Westford's favorite son, George Fletcher would be a great idea!
Ghost February 22, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Mr Gagnon, I have heard you have the docs you refer to above and I am sick of JJs bluster. Can you please upload? You don't even need to pay for a URL you can use a free site like Dropbox and post links or let Andrew post tem for you. I am sick of cover ups and think information about the way Westford is being run needs to see the light of day. Your driving record clearly isn't the issue, JJS just likes to deviate from the topic at hand and blow smoke, let's see the docs!
R Gagnon February 22, 2013 at 02:08 PM
WVEW, look at the ConsCom membership and bounce that off the members of the group who call themselves "Freinds of East Boston Camps". Thats the first couple of dots that will connect. Follow the breadcrumbs from there. The care and custody of EBC falling under the ConsCom was a done deal before the ink was dry on the check when Westford bought it.
NCSteve February 22, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Rome is burning, and you guys are fighting over what brand of fiddle Nero gets to play.
R Gagnon February 22, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Oh, BTW, another interesting tidbit (and telling) piece of information. Lets assume that any piece of property under care and custody of a "Conservation Commission" would enjoy protection of the natural resources and wildlife habitats within its borders. Now, look at all the money that has been allocated to the ConsCom and earmarked for East Boston Camps over the years. Guess how much has been spent on the care and custody of the afore mentioned resources and habitats compared to human exploitation of the property such as summer camps for non Westford residents. I'll save you the time and challenge anybody (JJ) to prove me wrong. Human exploitation = 100%. Conservation and protection of wildlife habitats and natural resources = 0%. EBC, under care and custody of the ConsCom has not seen any efforts or resources to protect the natural beauty within its borders. Now I'll let you get back to your research about members of FoEBC and the membership of the non-elected ConsCom.
Nola Burkhard February 22, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Also, just this past week while walking there 2 men from Concord I met up with said they had never been to EBC before--so i got to share some of the history about it---if they had not run into me--they would not have known about it--so a story board/placque is a good idea anyway!
Nola Burkhard February 22, 2013 at 03:15 PM
opps guess my first comment did not make it---I LOVE to hike all over EBC and am there several times each week---almost everyday. In the past I did not like the idea of a name change---but Westford Woods does have a lot of appeal--and if we gave tribute to the name EBC and a big sign/placuqe to share the story then I'm OK with it---WE have owned it for several years now--maybe it is TIME for a change. Heading over for a walk right now!
Dick February 22, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Rich, Thanks for presenting the facts about the EBC. Hopefully, the tax paying,conservation conscious taxpayers will get more interested in this beautiful piece of property that ALL Westford taxpayers are paying for, and deny those who would put limitations on our use of it.
Martin Luther February 22, 2013 at 05:56 PM
I recall the 1948 Dixiecrats under Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, Bull Connors, ... all good democrats would be found in 5th grade books written before 22 Nov 1963. I recall good old Ike federalizing the national guard and calling out the airborne to integrate Little Rock, Arkansas. No the 47% include many wealthy people who the fortune of having special tax loopholes do not pay any taxes. There is another group those that pay artificially low taxes like Mitt and Kennedy family because of special provisions in the IRS code. I certainly would not label these individuals right wing zealots. If you check the history of 42USC 1980-1987, you will find that Teddy Kennedy in 1978 had the 5 years prison term deleted from the penalties that could be imposed on an individual found guilty of violating a persons civil rights. BTW Did you know that Joe for Oil Kennedy receives more than $500,000 for running an oil distributorship that gets cheap/free oil via the graces of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela.
Martin Luther February 22, 2013 at 06:07 PM
I am willing to reimburse RG for any costs associated with posting the document that he claims to have. I also have some of the documents but I do not feel I have a complete set. The documents that I would be interested in are the transfer documents showing who got paid what. Federal Forms 990 show that Land Preservation Trust paid Hyams $14 million for EBC. The Registry of Deeds shows Hyams selling the property to the town of Westford for $13.5 million and the 2005 Form 990 filled by the Hyams foundation shows that they received $12.7 million for EBC. Oh, I forgot the private funding that the beautiful people promised was short by $240,000 which caused the Chairwoman of the Community Preservation Committee to become somewhat concerned about closing the deal.
R Gagnon February 22, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Those two men from Concord have access to one of the most historicaly significant 1600 acres of undeveloped land in the country. Estabrook Woods lies between Lowell Rd. and Monument St. It is where the patriot militia marched from to confront British soldiers at the North Bridge and stopped their progress towards Colonel Barrett's fields to find and confiscate weapons. The stones that formed the foundations of some of the houses are still visible as well as the pound and lime quarries. It is a complex of privately owned land with conservation restrictions that will protect it in perpetuity. I get a kick out of all the tourists from near and far posing in front of the Concord Inn thinking that that's where it started. The plotting and planning for that fateful day went on about a mile to the north of the inn. To walk those woods and see the remains of the dwellings bring a sense of awe of the greatness that started right there and everything that came after. While the history of EBC is kinda interesting in the 19th and 20th centuries, there is much more that went on before. Unfortunately, ingnorance of the history and a rush to exploit the resources will force the rich history of our past into the stale words of history book texts. I agree with Westford Voters that the historical comemoration, if there is to be one, should go back farther than the Hyams ownership of the land. One might argue, historicaly speaking, their stuardship was the beginning of the end for that land.
Ghost February 22, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Ike made is 100% he called in the NG at Littlerock not because he supported integration (he didn't) but his job was to carry out the Supreme Courts Brown decision, if that's your example if GOP support for Black Rights time to recheck and thank LB Johnson for pushing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, by this time Dixiecrats had fled the Democratic Party in drives over the Racial Question. Modern GOP has replaced opposition to equality for blacks to opposition to equality under the law for gays
Nola Burkhard February 22, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Hi Ron----are you the same Ron that had her daughter in my GS troop many moons ago? Great to see you too love EBC--or whatever we end up calling this wonderful and historic piece of land in Westford--heading over again for my 2nd walk of the day!
Sam February 22, 2013 at 07:51 PM
RG, I am with you on a lot of what you have posted here. I am curious on Jefferies. JJ has stated you are a big supporter of his. Yes or no on this.
R Gagnon February 22, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Sam, JJ is just trying to bust my, well, you know. He knows I'm no fan of Bob Jefferies. So in answer to your question, a most emphatic NO!!!! Jefferies and all the rest on the BoS must go when their terms are up or sooner if possible.
Martin Luther February 22, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Your comprehension of Presidential powers is sadly lacking. What Ike did was to effectively declare war against the state of Arkansas. A federal call up of a state military asset had never been done before. Ike was morally right and ethically correct but skating on thin ice. Did Ike have to back up the SCOTUS, morally and ethically- Yes but POTUS does not take orders from either Congress or SCOTUS. Take DOMA. It is apparent POTUS Obama will not defend legal challenges to DOMA which is the law of the land. The only way a POTUS or a members of SCOTUS can be punished for a transgression is impeachment and conviction of crimes and misdemeanors. If the GOP's platform supports family values over the sick and perverted agenda of the Lambda society or the killers of Jeffrey Daumer, I shall be on the GOP side.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) February 27, 2013 at 05:46 AM
Two comments have been deleted for violations of the terms of use. If I have to delete any more, I'm closing comments.
Friend of EBC March 02, 2013 at 03:01 AM
Andrew, Since most of the comments and information are off the subject & incorrect, I think that is a great idea! Best, Friend of EBC
Dan D. March 02, 2013 at 03:06 AM
What's incorrect? Educate us please. Broad statement are worthless.


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