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OSPC accepts Elmwood Farms land donation; billboard remnants to live on as bridges

by | Apr 4, 2024 | Featured: News, News

Open Space Preservation Commission

Open Space Preservation Commission members discovered pieces of antique farm equipment during a site walk of the Elmwood Farms property.

The Open Space Preservation Commission voted 3-0 at its meeting Thursday night to accept an open space donation as part of the Elmwood Farms development off Blueberry Lane.

OSPC chair Ed Harrow said he and fellow members Jane Moran and Nancy Peters participated in a recent site walk with the developer, Conservation Administrator Kim Ciaramicoli and Anna Rogers, the town’s environmental and inspectional services coordinator. While the site is fairly wet, Harrow and Moran said one plus is that it appears to be free of invasive species.

Harrow added that the site, a former farm, featured the metal remnants of wooden tools once used on the former farm. A plough blade, a wheel fan and some other pieces of iron were spotted on the ground.

Moran, who also serves on the Planning Board, noted that the development plans call for an L-shaped French drain on one parcel. It will allow water to flow into the town’s street drain and eventually to the stormwater treatment center.

“My interpretation of it is that they were really trying to accommodate the folks on Blueberry Lane to capture a lot of the water problems that are coming down from Ash Street,” Moran said. She noted residents have complained of increasing water problems since Marathon School was built and are concerned about the construction of the new elementary school on Hayden Rowe Street and the impact it could have.

She noted that two larger replication areas were taped off in order to preserve the larger and older trees, which she said was encouraging.

A “20-foot swath” of land will need to be cleared to allow for construction vehicles to enter the site and install the French drain, according to Harrow. He said it “was not adequately marked.”

Member Steve Levandosky recommended accepting the land, noting that its future potential is unknown and there is “no obvious liability.” Members agreed and voted in favor.

Billboard remnants to get new life

Two iconic billboards were removed on Monday despite efforts by Harrow and developer Craig Nation to advocate for their preservation. They both cited the billboards’ historic significance to the town as well as the potential for funds to be generated through advertising that would go to the OSPC.

Harrow said he was able to acquire three steel catwalks at the billboards’ base from billboard company Clear Channel. Harrow said they could be used for bridges.

Hopkinton Area Land Trust (HALT) president Morrie Gasser said one piece is 24 feet long, while two others are 12 feet long. He plans to test whether those pieces will be viable for bridge use on Tuesday.

While Gasser said “they are not particularly pretty,” they are skid proof.

This proposal will allow pieces of the billboards to remain a part of the town’s legacy.

The commission discussed potentially having a plaque on the site recognizing the history and significance of the billboards.

Potential encroachment bylaw discussed

Harrow noted that the commission is working on language for a potential encroachment bylaw.

“We want to have a staged approach,” he explained, with the first offense calling for a letter from the commission explaining the encroachment. There will be a 30-day period for the situation to be rectified.

If further violations are found, Moran said there should be a fee structure as well as an opportunity for the abutter to explain any extenuating circumstances.

“Clearly this is a problem,” added Harrow. “Sometimes people are great, and other times they’re difficult.”

Trails Committee may fund open space maintenance

Harrow noted that Trails Committee chair Peter LaGoy “would be willing to fund maintenance of open space on property that includes trails.” Although “the conversation has not been formalized,” Harrow said the agreement would include the Whitehall and Turkey Ridge conservation areas.

At the January meeting, Harrow also spoke of this arrangement. He said he will seek clarification in writing from LaGoy on the properties that would encompass and report back to the commission.

Harrow also said that the Whitehall property needs to be mowed and is covered in knotweed. He will work on maintenance arrangements in the meantime.

Moran asked if Harrow could contact the Department of Public Works to see if it could manage the sites. She said a comparison between public and private rates would be useful.

Bridge approved for town forest

The commission voted 3-0 to approve the expenditure of $2,000 for a bridge to be constructed at the Town Forest.

Editor’s note: A previous version misidentified the Elmwood Farms property.


  1. Ray Peterson

    The wooden tools, plough blade and the other iron pieces should be kept and put in a display somewhere on the property. Great historical pieces.

  2. Beth

    Never thought of them as a historic, more of an eye sore. Love that they’re able to use some of the pieces.


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