In recent weeks, I’ve heard rumblings around town that the goal of $1.7 million to create the new Town Common seems excessive to some. I can see how, at first glance, this may seem to be the case. In fact, truth be told, this was my initial reaction. But to understand where the $1.7 million goal is coming from, it is important to recognize that creating the Common is about far more than beautifying a piece of land – it is about purchasing and remediating an environmental hazard that occupies three acres of land in the heart of our town. And this is a costly undertaking.
Of the $1.7 million, approximately $1.3 million is the cost of “getting to green.” This includes the purchase of the land (8 acres total for $275,000), demolition, clean up, engineering costs, wetlands permitting fees, monitoring and compliance as mandated by the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection, taxes, legal fees and fundraising costs. The additional $400,000 is for amenities that the people of Bolton expressed a desire to see as part of the Town Common during the collaborative design process ("the charrette"). These include necessities like the parking lot, sidewalks and barriers to the street, but also features like walking paths, a pavilion, benches, an outdoor amphitheater and a natural playground.
The good news here is that several folks have stepped forward to offer to build these items for free or at cost. The Nashoba Valley Winery has offered to build the circular trellis in the center of the Common (on top of other generous donations they’ve already made), the Bolton Boy Scouts, with volunteer professional support, are building the small pavilion, and several townspeople are building the natural playground and the fitness stations utilizing our town's natural resources. As a result of these residents donating their time and talents, we are building these amenities at a fraction of what it would cost from a third-party vendor. In addition, residents are donating structural elements such as piping, fill and even WiFi infrastructure which is helping to further reduce the overall cost.
Still, the reality remains that raising $1.7 million is a big undertaking for a small town like ours. To date, we have raised just over $660,000 from less than four percent of households. To make the Common happen, we need considerably more residents to step forward and pledge their support. Consider if 800 families – approximately half of households in town – were willing to pledge $50 per month over the next two years, we would achieve our fundraising goal. For some families this may not be realistic, yet for others considerably more is feasible. Any contribution that a household can make will get us closer to our common goal.
To that end, I would urge Bolton residents to consider a two-year pledge (to be paid in installments, if preferred). It will take the majority of residents to come forward with support to transform the center of our beautiful New England town from a contaminated, unusable property to a beautiful common that manifests what I believe Bolton stands for: nature, community and vitality. Meanwhile the Bolton Town Common Initiative Committee will continue seeking opportunities for grants as well as state and federal funding where possible.
If we are going to make the Bolton Common a reality, we need your help. Please