Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the Trust want to sell the Town Common to the Town?
Answer: The intention of the Bolton Conservation Trust has always been to give the Common to the Town. Had we raised all of the funds, we would have gifted the Bolton Town Common to the people of Bolton. A Town Common, by definition, is municipal land that increases community and economic vitality of a town. Virtually every town common in New England is owned by its town. We believe this is how it should be.
Why did the Trust build a Town Common anyway?
Answer: There is quite a bit of history with the Town on this piece of property. In Nov 2004 the Town voted to spend $30,000 on evaluating the purchase of the property from the Smith’s with contingencies related to the environmental condition of the property. In Nov 2005 the town voted not to buy the property for $1.6M because of the unknown factors of contamination with the property. Again in Nov 2011 the town voted against the purchase of the property because of clean-up challenges with the property. So Bolton was saddled with an eyesore of a property that sat contaminated in the center of town with no one willing to do the hard work of getting the site cleaned up.
As stewards of the land, the Bolton Conservation Trust did not feel right in letting this property continue to deteriorate in the center of town, so we stepped up and bought the property to clean it up. During the process the Trust always had the goal of creating something on the property that town residents would like to see. We looked at numerous options including single family residences, a compact development, an affordable housing development, and more. To decide how to best use the land, we ran public opinion surveys, design charrettes, and narrowed down the choices. Overwhelmingly the Town Common was the choice of the residents of Bolton, so the Trust set out to build what was being requested.
Why did the Trust get involved with the Town Common if they could not afford it?
Answer: The Trust had a solid plan from the beginning; we had an estimated budget of $1.4M. Our plan was to raise $1M in private donations, and apply for public grants for $400K from state and federal government agencies. The Trust exceeded its goal of private donations, raising $1.2M in private donations, but the public grants were turned down on two occasions citing that Bolton was too wealthy a community. The overall final project budget came in at $1.47M, leaving the Bolton Conservation Trust $270K short of our budget. On 4/5, the Trust voted to lower the price of the Common to $195,000 thanks to additional private donations and a wilingness by the board members to tap into Trust resources previously allocated for other projects.
Why is the Trust just asking for $195K?
Answer: The Trust received loans from Mass Development to get the project started so we could work on the clean-up in parallel with fundraising. The loans for Mass Development are due before the end of 2017. We have approx. $388K in outstanding loans. With the monies we have left in our existing Common funds from private donors, plus $195K we can pay off these outstanding loans. Note, however, that we will have to put off building the large pavilion until additional monies can be raised privately.
Is the Trust making any money on the Common?
Answer: No, all of the money we raised, plus $195K will bring us to a $0.00 break-even point on the Town Common project.
How much will this cost Bolton residents in taxes?
Answer: It will cost $110 per household to purchase the Common. Given that the purchase is likely to be financed over 10 years, this equates to approximately $11 per household per year for 10 years.
How will ongoing maintenance of the Common be managed?
Answer: The Trust proposes a shared maintenance effort between the Town and the Trust.. There is a draft Maintenance and Support Agreement being reviewed by the Selectman and the Bolton Conservation Trust. The basis of the agreement is that the Town will be responsible for grass mowing and trimming, snow plowing, and driveway maintenance. The Trust will perform remediation closure monitoring and assist and fund beautification projects, maintenance of pavilions, trellis and playground, event management and scheduling (if requested), grant writing support (if requested). The Trust’s goal is to keep the Town Common beautiful while working with the Town to handle standard maintenance items.
What ongoing maintenance activities will be needed at the Common and what are they likely to cost the Town?
Answer: The routine grounds maintenance has been estimated by Bolton DPW at $7,000 per year, which works out to approximately $4 per family per year. These services include:
Spring & Fall clean-up plus 6 step fertilization
DPW provided the grounds maintenance cost estimates and would perform most of the work with existing personnel or would contract out at DPW’s discretion.
Who will be responsible for scheduling activities on the Common and what is the likely time demand and cost?
Answer: The Town will own the Common and be responsible for scheduling. The Trust is willing to handle scheduling at no cost for the near-term (1-2 years) if requested.. The scheduling of activities should be similar to that required for town-owned meeting rooms or for the use of town-owned fields such as Memorial Field.. The Parks & Recreation Commission may be a logical party to be responsible for overall scheduling.
Where will people park when there is a large concert or event at the Common?
Answer: The parking lot at the Town Common has approximately 20 spaces of which 2 are handicapped spaces.. Additional parking is available at church and town property in the center of Bolton including the Bolton Public Library, Memorial Field, Florence Sawyer and Emerson Schools, Trinity Church, and the First Parish.. The schedule for events on the Common will necessarily have to be coordinated with the organizations responsible for off-site parking.. It will also be necessary to mobilize a detail from the Bolton Police Department to assure safety on Main Street for larger events.. The Christmas Tree and Menorah lighting in 2015 and 2016 had large crowds that managed to find parking in the area, facilitated by police presence.
What will be the demands placed on the police associated with events at the Common and how will police costs be covered?
Answer: The Police would be expected to provide a street crossing detail for all large-scale events on the Common. Detail fees would normally be paid for by event sponsors.
What happens if the Town does not buy the Common?. What is the impact and what would become of the land?
Answer: Since the purchase of the Common by the Town is the Trust’s primary means to complete the project and repay the loans received from Mass Development, the Trust would have to use all of its current resources as well as obtain additional private funding. The net outcome would be that the programs that the Trust provides to the Town would be drastically reduced, or cancelled.
Tom Denney Nature Camp which a large number of children attend every year would have to significantly increase its fees. The Tom Denney Nature Camp employs a number of Bolton teens as counselors and also provides environmentally oriented day camp for approximately 300 children.
. Four Winds environmental education program at the Emerson and Florence Sawyer Schools. The Four Winds program provides seasonal environmental classroom and field education to approximately 500 Bolton school children that could not continue without an outside source of funding.
Bonnie Potter Annual Scholarship - The Bolton Conservation Trust offers an annual Bonnie Potter Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 for community service in conservation or environmental issues to a graduating high school senior. This most certainly would be cancelled.
Town Common Events such as the Christmas Tree & Menorah Lighting, WinterFest and Movie on the Common series will also need to be eliminated or increase significantly in cost.
Conservation Trail Maintenance While the Trust has many volunteers who maintain trails and open spaces in Bolton, the ability to continue with the current level of effort would be severely limited, particularly where money for signs, maps, and maintenance equipment would be needed.
Accept Gifts of Land One of the many functions of the Trust is accept gifts of land or conservation restrictions on land. Working closely with the Town, the Trust is often in a position to act quickly in due diligence and efforts to protect land. If the Trust must continue to own and maintain the Common and cover the outstanding loans, its ability to act quickly would be severely limited.
Community Group Events the Common is intended for everyone in town to enjoy, however if the Town did not purchase the Common, Community Groups requesting Common use, would have to be charged a significant fee for use.
Has the Trust followed State and Federal Regulations in conducting the environmental cleanup of the site?
Answer: Yes, the Trust has followed all State and Federal regulations for the environmental cleanup. The requirements are specified in Massachusetts Contingency Plan (310 CMR 40.0000: Subpart H:. Comprehensive Response Actions) and are managed by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). After reporting a contaminated condition, investigation and remediation actions must be completed in sequential phases:
Phase II - Comprehensive Site Assessment;
Phase III - Identification and Selection of Comprehensive Remedial Action Alternatives;
Phase IV - Implementation of the Selected Remedial Action Alternative; and
Phase V - Operation, Maintenance and/or Monitoring
The Trust has completed the actions through the end of Phase IV and are going into Phase V, monitoring, in April. Every step in the process is managed and approved by an external Licensed Site Professional licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Is the Town Common safe from contamination?
Answer: Yes, soil on the ground surface at the Town Common contains no contamination. However, it is important to acknowledge that the site has been cleaned up for normal uses of the Common in compliance with DEP guidelines (e.g., events and passive recreation, not residential living).
Per the Phase IV Remedy Implementation Plan submitted to MassDEP, the key sources of contamination in soil have been excavated and disposed of and a protective capping has been placed in the form of fill, gravel, loam, and pavement. A layer of geotextile (non-biodegradable landscaping cloth) has been placed over all of the areas where assessment identified contamination. Residual petroleum and metals with concentrations within MassDEP and risk-based guidelines remain in soil at the site below the cap. However, no soil with residual petroleum and metals is accessible or “exposed” at the surface. The soil with residual petroleum and metals (similar to urban fill) is all isolated by the protective capping. The permitted uses of the Common are defined by the Activity and Use Limitation (AUL) document in accordance with MassDEP requirements.