A public hearing was held at the Board of Selectmen meeting for a parcel of land about 43 acres located at 203 Pond Street or as some refer to as the Coolidge property. For months debate has existed weather the town should purchase the land and preserve the parcel as open space. A number of groups were represented at the selectmen meeting to express their feelings in preserving the land including the Sudbury Valley Trustees, Hopkinton Area Land Trust, Friends of Whitehall, Friends of Upton State Forest, Baystate Trail Riders and the New England Mountain Bike Association. Much of the argument to preserve the land was centered around the link between Whitehall State Park and Upton State Forest and the fact that their is alot of wildlife living on the land.
Mary McManus of the "Baystate Trail Riders" pleaded her case to the Selectmen on why the town should preserve the land. "We have to save the open space we have left because it's decreasing quickly, it's our civic duty." "Any development of this parcel would fragment a very sensitive habitat corridor for wildlife, it's a natural conduit between the 2 beautiful state parks, Upton and Whitehall, it presents a continuity of natural landscape unprecedented in the state."
Ken Weismantel of the Planning Board did not agree with the plan for the town to buy all the land but had an alternative idea that he felt would be a better value for the town. "If the town is interested then the CPC should consider purchasing either lot 1 or lot 1 and 2, those are the 2 southern ones on Pond Street." "if you purchase lot 1 you affectively add to the corridor." "Lot 2 also preserves the street scape and adds to the corridor."
After the public hearing, the Selectmen gave their opinions, Selectmen John Mosher stated that the land is worth preserving, Michelle Gates supported allowing the proposal to have a vote at Town Meeting, John Coutinho supported the vote going to town meeting but questioned weather the town had enough money to preserve the land and if their was something better that money should be spent on. Ben Palleiko supported purchasing the land if the house came down and it was purely open space.
In the end the Board autorized the Town Manager and Town Counsel to begin negotiations over 203 Pond Street with the landowner, exploring the towns options for excercising it's right of first refusal on the notice of intent to sell and town meeting consideration.