Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton, US
10:53 am, Thursday, September 21, 2023


Open Space Preservation Commission celebrates Jenner property acquisition

by | Jun 2, 2023 | News

The Open Space Preservation Commission at its hour-long hybrid meeting Thursday night thanked Alan and Jennifer Jenner for allowing the town to purchase their 40-acre parcel for open space.

The land, according to OSPC chair Ed Harrow, is a parcel of about 40 acres in the Saddle Hill Road area that is surrounded by the Conroy property and state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) property. Harrow previously said that the Jenners were willing to sell the land to the town for about $100,000 with the condition that it be named Rice Woods in honor of a family member. Town Meeting last month voted to approve the purchase, with funding appropriated by the Community Preservation Committee.

Members took turns thanking the Jenners, who attended via Google Meet, for allowing this transaction while they celebrated with carrot cake and Harrow’s homemade Irish soda bread.

“You have been very generous and very helpful,” Harrow said to the Jenners. “I really thank you.”

Harrow noted he encountered a similar situation when he sold some property around his late mother’s home in Norwell to that town so that it could be used as open space so that “the house will never have McMansions built next to it or across the street from it.”

“It’s always wonderful to keep open space as open space so we don’t have just developments and roads,” added member Nancy Peters.

Member Steve Levandosky noted that, while the property was “on our radar,” what was unusual was that the Jenners approached the committee about allowing the town to purchase it.

Added Levandosky: “We’ve had a lot of struggles reaching out to landowners to get them to sell their land, so it’s wonderful that you were wiling to make this happen.”

“I think every time we make an investment in open space, we’re able to protect it for this town for the long term – for many, many generations,” said Select Board member Muriel Kramer.

“Hopefully we’re trendsetters,” said Alan Jenner, “and people will come to you with their land and want to offer it.”

Jennifer Jenner reminisced about how she would visit her grandmother there more than 60 years ago for family dinners and how her mother was born on Price Street.

“Hopkinton has a very special place in our hearts,” she said. “We are really thrilled. It means a lot for my mom’s family. I’m so glad that everyone’s happy, and my brothers and I are very, very happy.”

A tour of the property with the Jenners is set to take place on Oct. 14 at 10 a.m., with further details to be released as the date approaches. This will help familiarize residents with the site, Harrow said.

Other potential properties for acquisition discussed

Discussions about the town’s potential acquisition of the Springwood property, a 60-plus acre parcel off Kimball Road, are moving forward. The land was slated to be clear cut to make way for a proposed solar array until property owner Mike Umina learned of the displeasure of the abutting neighbors and stopped the tree clearing.

Harrow explained that Town Manager Norman Khumalo reached out to Umina, but Umina is out of the state. Umina is expected to contact Khumalo within the next couple of weeks.

Peters noted that neighbors on both sides of the property were against the tree clearing as well as a potential solar array. Housing could be a better option if the parties were in agreement, she said, based upon the town’s needs.

“I think that would be a really unique and beautiful idea,” said member Jane Moran.

Another 8-acre parcel of interest is located on Hill Street at the Westborough line, Harrow said. He explained that the property owner reached out to Principal Planner John Gelcich about it, and the information was forwarded to him.

Harrow added that he had “a fruitful conversation” with the owner, whom he did not name.

A third property discussed for potential acquisition is owned by Winter Street resident Russell Phipps. Harrow said that Phipps was thinking about keeping a portion of the property near his house and had questions about the property boundaries.

The CPC previously approved money for the appraisal of the land, Harrow said. Moran suggested the town offer to pay for a surveyor, given the town’s interest in buying the land. She called it “a huge benefit.” Harrow said he would bring up the idea to Phipps.

Whitehall conservation land trees pruned, fence discussed

Harrow told committee members that the trees on the Whitehall conservation land were pruned by a tree company on May 19, preventing further spread of invasive bittersweet that had broken some of the tree limbs.

Said Harrow: “The trees look a lot happier.”

He also discussed putting a sign up at the fence near Wood Street so that people will know where the access point to the land is. He described the falling fence as “hanging by a thread,” which prompted Moran to ask if it should be removed altogether. It had been constructed as an Eagle Scout project.

A review of the conservation restriction on the property noted that no fences were to be constructed. It was unclear at the meeting where the idea for the fence originated. Peters said she had asked about it previously.

Peters, who lives near the site, said she has observed people walking by without realizing that it is town recreational land with a trail. She explained that the fence is not on the property line.

“It gives the impression that 4 feet [of land] at least belongs to the person that claims the road,” she said. “And that is not the truth.”

“It’s hard to see any opening whatsoever,” she continued, noting that a sign would be helpful for people who want to access the trail. Moran asked when it could be installed.

Said Moran: “People should know exactly how to access the property that they should be openly enjoying.”

Harrow explained that once the location for the sign is determined, he will be able to install it. He has a sign but needs to construct and paint its posts. He and Peters agreed to visit the site to mark the best place for the sign. Peters noted that the land going up to the entrance can be bumpy, a concern that potentially could be addressed at a future meeting.

He mentioned that there had previously been a problem with all-terrain vehicles on the road there, but that stopped when an abutter to the property moved.

The committee unanimously approved removing the fence and allowing the sign to be installed.