Given the argument above on the fluidity of Town board makeup, would you commit now to placing a preservation restriction to protect the exterior of Fayville Town Hall before it is sold? If not, why not?
I am in favor of protecting the Historic Fayville Village Hall and believe we can do it in a way that preserves the building and allows the town to receive a fair price for the building and land. Town Meeting has made it clear more than once that protecting this building is a high priority. I will recommend that we work with the Historical Commission to engage the services of a consultant knowledgeable in Historical Properties Real Estate to guide us as we develop the RFP. I believe that there can be benefit drafting the RFP to include the requirement that a Preservation Restriction be placed on Fayville Hall by the purchaser, which could provide them with tax benefits. These are complicated issues which is why I recommend we engage the services of an expert.
Study after study has shown that taxes on single family homes don’t cover their cost to the Town, and each new build actually contributes to higher rates for everyone. Given that, what would you propose to limit further development and increase the quality of life for current residents?
This is a complicated question –
First, we need development to meet our future as our society and needs change and to provide for a robust economy. Additionally, property owners have a right to full value of their property under our zoning code bylaws. I am not in favor of taking away property rights or curtailing development.
We also know that healthy communities need open space. A recent economic study in Marlborough found that business owners list open space and trails as the number one amenity they are looking for when considering which towns to locate in. Marlborough’s Economic Development Corporation was surprised by this but then moved to help create trails that connected to local businesses and parks.
Open space and a healthy economy can certainly go hand in hand.
As an Open Space Commissioner for 12 years and current Chair I am in favor of protecting the most important open spaces in town. However, we know we can’t afford to protect it all, which is why the Open Space Preservation Commission works on prioritizing which parcels have the most value as open space.
If the majority of home-owners in a particular area of Town favored the creation of an historic district, would this have your support?
Absolutely, Kate Matison spoke in much detail at a meeting of St. Marks Golf Course Master Plan Committee. I think it enhances our Town and makes it more desirable.
Would you support the Town acquiring any open parcels that come out of agricultural use to prevent their development?
I don’t believe the Town should purchase land to prevent development, I am not against development. Some parcels of land, however are more important than others to be protected based on the open space value. Recently the Open Space Preservation Commission has included a focus on agricultural lands as an added priority, of particular concern are prime farmland soil which is a valuable and quickly disappearing asset. Our beautiful hay fields are also a priority for a visual connection to our rural heritage and important habitat for grassland birds they provide. Species like the bobolink are disappearing from our landscape due to the lack of habitat.
The Open Space and Recreation Plan, which is approved by both the Selectman and the State has a comprehensive list of priority parcels for preservation. The Open Space Preservation Commission evaluates open space parcels based on their agricultural, historical, passive recreational, wildlife habitat values and scenic views when deciding which parcels to prioritize. Preventing development is never a consideration.
What other ideas do you have to promote and protect the historic nature of Southborough?
First I believe people will protect that which they are familiar with, so I am in favor of creating a town wide trail that visits our historical properties with markers or links to a virtual map that identifies the history behind the many buildings and places that the average citizen may not be aware of. Potentially calling it the Southborough History Trail. This concept was discussed during the effort to preserve the Burnett House.
I also have heard that Deb Costine has led talks on the History of the Burnett Family and I think we need more activities like this.
Once people are more knowledgeable about Southborough’s History it will be easier to promote preservation.
What plans might you suggest to revitalize the Main Street area economically and aesthetically once the road improvements are done?
Great questions. Unfortunately, the Main Street reconstruction is only being upgraded to Latisquama Rd. and not our downtown.
I propose working with the Planning Board and the Economic Development Committee to brainstorm on what can be done to upgrade the infrastructure in our downtown. A lot can be done to make it aesthetically pleasing, the road needs to be redone, brick sidewalks, imitation gas lights, flower plantings, benches and maybe a pocket park. A more aesthetically pleasing downtown would bring more people to the area which would make the area a more desire location for businesses. I would look into what grant funding is available to help fund these improvements.
And finally, if plans were developed for a cultural corridor linking the Library, the Old Burial Ground, the Museum, the Town House, St Marks church and the cemetery, would you be generally supportive of such an idea?
Yes, that section of our Town is so historic and beautiful it would be wonderful to see the area be better utilized. I would take it further and I would recommend a larger trail system as described above.