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Your money bought a locked gate

September 22, 2015

Your water rates paid for the purchase of a $4.5 million recreational property near the Sharon town line, now known as Jarvis Farm (formerly the Sharon Country Day Camp.)

But, as shown by the picture below, taken on a recent beautiful Saturday morning, ratepayers apparently aren’t supposed to be using it.

The gate to Jarvis Farm remains shut and padlocked most days. It is only opened for special events, such as the recent Town Employee Appreciation Day that was held there.

Sewer and Water Commission Chairman John Spillane said residents are still permitted to use the property but the gate is normally locked to prevent vandalism, like what has occurred there earlier this year. But with no convenient parking located nearby, where exactly are residents supposed to park to use it? What about all of the other recreational properties around town, that remain unlocked and accessible with few issues?

“Ratepayers are not paying for the use of the Jarvis Farm property, it was purchased to protect the water supply,” Spillane clarified.

But it has been well documented that one of Town Meeting’s rationale for purchasing the property was to allow it to be used for recreational use. Town Meeting would not have purchased it if they knew the intention was to keep the gate shut forever. Even though it was ostensibly purchased to protect the aquifer, the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection gave the Sewer and Water Commission permission to allow passive recreation at the property, including youth sports.

The gate has been closed and shut during the entire 2015 summer season that ends today.

The Jarvis Farm Committee, a subcommittee formed with appointees of both the Board of Selectmen and Sewer and Water Commission, is expected to appear before Selectmen within the next month to make recommendations for the property’s use. One of the leading possibilities for its use is for it to be rented out as a summer camp, like the Sharon Country Day Camp. Preliminarily, it appears that swimming will not be permitted next summer at the property’s spring fed pond, because of extensive government regulations that make it cost-prohibitive.

IMG_1338

Jarvis Farm Gate

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill Abbott permalink
    September 24, 2015 9:48 AM

    Catchy title – “Your money bought a locked gate”, have there been complaints about not being able to use the Jarvis Farm property – if so, I’d like to know so we can see if we can address them (or is the real issue that the property was purchased).

    As the author of your blog, you can editorialize how you wish. As I’m sure you are aware, the property has been used for Little League games and other activities and not just as the private preserve for the Town Hall Employee Appreciation Day (but doesn’t sound as inflammatory).

    You state that the property was “ostensibly purchased to protect the aquifer”. If this property was located anywhere else, Water funds wouldn’t have been involved and given the town’s plans to construct a new police station, fire station, and senior center, it wouldn’t have been purchased at all. The fact is that without the very close connection to the water supply, the property would not have been purchased (and in my opinion even if it was in the outer part of the aquifer protection areas).

    You are correct that many Town Meeting members voted for the purchase because of the potential recreation uses – in particularly for the addition of fields for youth sports (as well as for protection of the water supply).

    I believe the majority of the Sewer & Water Commission has no problem with the property being used for recreation – after all the property was used for decades as a summer day camp without impacting the town’s wells. In addition, I’ve been in favor of investigating the possibility of leasing the property for use as a summer day camp to help offset the impact the purchase of this property has had on the water rate payers as well as the impact it will have on future water capital projects.

  2. September 24, 2015 10:07 AM

    I have a concern with spending $4.5 million on a property that is shut off to the public.
    Why is the gate closed? Is it open for recreational use or not?
    Although I appreciate your opinion and the facts you have presented (which are not in dispute), your comment did not actually address the central issue – why is the gate closed?

    • Skipper Lane permalink
      September 26, 2015 11:11 AM

      The Jarvis Farm Committee meeting are not public record and the minutes nor agenda not kept. The Secretary of the Commonwealth needs to get involved.

      Let the sunshine in on this private club. It should be leased to a private entity to manage and produce income earmarked to lower the amount the rate payers are subsidizing.

      Can we telecast the W&S commission meetings to highlight their ineptitude.

      • September 26, 2015 1:34 PM

        Just to make some clarifications, the Jarvis Farm Committee is making every effort to follow the Open Meeting Law. Also the S & W Commission meetings are now being televised.

  3. Skipper Lane permalink
    September 26, 2015 4:46 PM

    Where are their meetings , agenda’s & minutes on the town ssite. Where can I find out who the members are?

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