We did it! Thank You!
With a vote 5,924-3,011, Sudbury voters chose yet again to save conservation land in town by acquiring the valuable, historic Broadacres Farm property. In time, Broadacres will surely be considered one of Sudbury’s crown jewel spaces.
This clear consensus would not have been possible without support from a number of local groups, including Sudbury Valley Trustees, Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, Oppose Sudbury Station, Protect Sudbury, and more — all contributed in some way, and everyone should be proud of the results. It’s wonderful to have so many local, grassroots groups come together. Thank to all voters and supporters.
The ballot vote follows overwhelming support at Town Meeting, and from numerous town boards, commissions, and officials.
This unanimous support makes sense. Whether youth playing fields, space for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, gorgeous conservation land, a landscape that links us back to the Town’s agricultural history, a place for a picnic, or sledding, or simply a scenic spot for quiet contemplation – the acquisition of Broadacres Farm has something to offer everyone.
The Town has developed a web dedicated to Broadacres, with maps, images, and details of the costs and benefits of the acquisition.
The Town Manager’s presentation can be found here:
Unanimous votes of support came from:
- Board of Selectmen,
- Planning Board,
- Land Acquisition Review Commission,
- Conservation Commission,
- Park and Recreation Commission,
- Community Preservation Commission,
With endorsements or awareness messages from:
- Sudbury Valley Trustees
- Friends of Bruce Freeman Rail Trail
- Oppose Sudbury Station
- Sudbury League of Women Voters
These groups have varied values and perspectives, but the shared goal of acting in Sudbury’s long-term best interests and adding to the quality of life in town. They all agree that acquiring Broadacres Farm advances those goals.
You can find out more about Friends of Broadacres Farm here, at www.friendsofbroadacres.com
The Friends of Broadacres Farm is a group of concerned residents and active citizens working to save Broadacres Farm, a 35-acre horse farm located on both the north and south sides of 82 Morse Road in Sudbury. Sandwiched between Featherland Park baseball fields and Wake Robin Conservation Land, and bisected by the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail corridor, the Town’s acquisition of this property will create more than 100 acres of contiguous conservation lands and other town-owned parcels and provide public trail access and natural resource protection. The acquisition could expand the Featherland Park Complex by approximately 30%, which could add 2-3 playing fields, and support the BFRT. Protection of this property provides historical, cultural, agricultural, ecological, and recreational benefits.
This farm has been listed as a priority parcel for preservation since at least the town’s 2009 Open Space and Recreation Plan and was listed as a priority Heritage Landscape in the state’s 2006 Heritage Landscape Inventory Report.
The property is currently enrolled in Chapter 61A tax classification which allows for a significant reduction in taxes in exchange for a right-of-first refusal to the Town. Under this classification, the Town has the right to meet a bona fide offer within 120 days of receipt of the offer. However, Town Officials have proactively reached an agreement with the property owner, agreeing on a price before the property even goes out to bid.
Community Preservation Act funds that the Town has already saved — funds which are intended to support the preservation of historic, recreational, open space, and/or affordable housing through large purchases that the Town would not otherwise be able to afford — will pay a huge portion of the cost. Broadacres has most of these elements and the size and purchase price of Broadacres make it a classic example of why the CPA was created, and it makes sense to use these already-saved funds to significantly reduce the cost of the purchase.
Top Ten Reasons to preserve Broadacres Farm:
- Preserve Sudbury’s town character, permanently. Protection of Broadacres Farm provides historical, cultural, agricultural, ecological, and recreational benefits to all town residents. The property has been listed as a priority parcel for preservation by the Town since the 2009-2013 Open Space and Recreation Plan and was designated a priority Heritage Landscape in the state’s 2006 Heritage Landscape Inventory Report. Preserving Broadacres would help preserve the historic character of the Town by offering permanent protection of the space from development.
- Expand existing athletic fields. The flat field abutting Featherland Park on two sides is an obvious area to expand athletic fields to help relieve pressure on sports scheduling and field wear & tear. The acquisition could expand the Featherland Park Complex by approximately 30% (another 2-3 fields).
- Enhance existing conservation area. Preserving the large, open field adjacent to add to the prior investment in the existing adjacent 48-acre town-owned Wake Robin conservation land and unlock public access to more than 60 acres of unfragmented conservation area. Based on the remaining land inventory in town, this could be the last large open space purchase of this generation.
- Support the Rail Trail. The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail route bisects the property, and purchasing Broadacres would help support the rail trail by potentially providing parking, or rest stops, or simply a nice scenic stretch of trail. The Broadacres property abuts the BFRT for approximately 1,000 feet. Broadacres, when combined with other town-owned properties, would create a 1-mile section of open space and recreational properties adjacent to the rail trail.
- Reuse the buildings. The existing buildings on the property – a house, the large indoor arena, a shed, and a series of barns – have great reuse potential. Other towns have re-purposed similar buildings for School Administration, Parks and Recreation, DPW, or other town office space. Especially with Fairbanks in deteriorating condition, rehabilitating these buildings could provide much-needed space for various town staff, either temporarily while Fairbanks is repaired or on a permanent basis. The barns could be used to store maintenance equipment for Featherland Park & Nixon Elementary School or other town equipment in general (and maybe give the opportunity to re-arrange and expand Featherland more), and the indoor arena has all sorts of potential re-use options. Or, if the town decides against re-use of the existing buildings, several affordable housing units could be developed there similar to the Maynard/Marlboro Road project.
- It makes financial sense. In rough numbers, an estimated purchase price by the town would cost something like $51 per household per year, with that amount declining each year. If the land were developed into houses, the taxpayers would see an equivalent or greater demand for taxes because of increased school enrollment. Just 10 homes built on the site, assuming each had 2 children, would add more than $50 per year to each Sudbury household in additional taxes due to demand for additional school services (calculated by adding Sudbury’s average per pupil expenditure to the budget, then dividing by the number of Sudbury households).
- Prevent future trouble. Sudbury residents have seen what happens when large parcels of land go up for sale – the Johnson Farm 40B proposal with 313 housing units, the Sudbury Station 40B proposal with 250 housing units, Melone Property with 330 units, etc. Letting the property go to sale would surrender control to a developer, and likely lead to some form of dense development on the site, immediately or in the future via “land banking,” which will result in additional costs for municipal services, as well as costs in terms of traffic, public safety, resource use, environmental impact, etc., at a spot located between Town Center, the high school, two elementary schools, and Featherland Park. Purchasing the property for town use protects residents from these future costs.
- Reduce the cost using existing CPA funds. Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds are intended to support the preservation of historic, recreational, open space, and/or affordable housing through large purchases that the Town would not otherwise be able to afford. Broadacres potentially has most of these elements. The size and purchase price of Broadacres make it a classic example of why the CPA was created. Broadacres was the only proposed CPA project in 2018 to receive unanimous support from the Community Preservation Committee, which recommends CPA funding.
- Fill the center to get 300+ acres. Purchasing the entire 35-acre Broadacres parcel “fill a donut hole” of space surrounded by town-owned land to create as much as 300+ acres of contiguous open space, educational, recreational, and town properties arching from Plympton Road to Morse down to Hudson roads, from Brues Woods, to Nixon School, to Featherland Park, to Broadacre Farm, to Wake Robin Conservation Land, to the Parkinson Parcel. The ability to expand these existing amenities increases the value of prior investments.
- Unanimous support. Every board that has examined the issue – Community Preservation Committee, Land Acquisition Review Committee, and Conservation Commission, Parks and Recreation – has voted unanimously in favor of purchasing Broadacre Farm. The Broadacre Farm proposal was the only CPC proposal to receive unanimous support in 2018. Other groups, such as Sudbury Valley Trustees and League of Women Voters of Sudbury, endorse this acquisition.
National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. — Wallace Stegner