Letter: We Have An Opportunity to Help the Town And Eastleigh
The owner of Eastleigh farm shares his thoughts before the selectmen's meeting tonight, in which Eastleigh water usage will be discussed.
Off and on over the past 4 plus years, there have been discussions and debates about the water "problem" at Eastleigh among various Boards and committees concerned about fairness in Framingham as to who gets what when it comes to Town water.
Frankly, the tone of the discussion has been a bit shocking to me, in that I have been accused of being a crook, a liar, and a thief. This all because I bought Eastleigh Farm to save it from development. Were all the previous owners crooks and con men as well? Clearly, no one asked me to do it, but I did think it would be a giant step toward protecting a part of Town where I grew up and still reside, and it was at a time when my vocation was allowing me the financial freedom to make it happen.
So much for the dream. The reality now is that my business can no longer support the Farm, and the Farm cannot support itself,so what so we do? The search for help has taken me to SVT,The State, private Foundations, and the Federal Government. To this point, and for various reasons, these efforts have yet to be a success.
Now comes the Town of Framingham, which maintains that it has to charge the Farm for its water use to the tune of about $12,000 plus a year, according to the figures given me by the new Town Manager.
Mind you, the Town has for decades used the Farm to carry water from the water tanks across the road to various developments in the Northwest side of Town. Many of you know the saga of the Town meeting and Selectmen’s votes over the years which verify the Town never paying to run its water lines through this private property. I’m not asking them to pay now, but no one has convinced me, nor is likely to that it makes good sense for the public to use the land without “paying” for it (other than the small easement that was taken two years ago to install the measuring device.) These deals were and are a benefit to the Town. One of the agreements Mr. Petrini cites is that the Farm would pay at the prevailing rate. I’m no lawyer, but when the prevailing rate at that time was zero, and there has never in 80 years been a meter or a bill, that seems to suggest that one must use creative legalese to justify that finding.
People have suggested that if the Farm gets tough, I need to also get tough and file suit against it and the use of the pipes for the public good. Haven’t we already lost enough money to Lawyers and second parties in the past few years. Does the Town really feel it is in the best interest of you to spend tens of thousands of dollars of your tax money to collect $12,000 a year from Eastleigh, an asset that over the years, including the last time this came up, the Town has claimed it wanted to do anything and everything it could to protect and save. You’ll recall the letter Mr. Giombetti read into the record that professed the Board's undying devotion to the cause of saving the Farm.
Now they have a chance to help out, and we all have a chance to work together to help out the Town and Eastleigh at the same time.
I’m quite sure after several conversations with our new Town Manager, Mr. Halpin, that he would like to work toward a solution here once and for all. There are so many possibilities of the Town using the facilities for the benefit of the many, and ways around creating new water sources that would save that which is currently being used by the Farm for other residential needs and possibilities. I feel he has the capability of looking at the big picture, and coming back to the Board with options which are great for the Town. After all, there are financial benefits on the services and allowances That Eastleigh has provided and is providing now and further in the future if there is further expansion of Eastleigh’s work. The Planning Board is currently examining some of these options right now. There are ways the Town could be working with the Farm to provide some of the power needs we have. The list goes on and on.
I wonder how many people who sit in positions of influence in Town Government have actually even ever been to the Farm. Thousands of people from all over the State are coming to the Farm every week to buy our Dairy products and learn about Farming, the Cows, and where food comes from. Last weekend alone we had scouts, a church group and a bus full of Seniors come to just enjoy this outstanding place that most are amazed is in our Town.
The Town just gave millions of dollars in tax breaks to keep TJX. As a Town Meeting member, I thought that move made a lot of sense. So, you can imagine my confusion as I see the Town gearing up to penalize me and you by not really trying to solve this problem creatively once and for all.
The bottom line here is that the Selectmen have set a rather hastily called meeting (one of their members did not know until last Friday that a meeting had been scheduled) to set water rates and deal with the Eastleigh water usage on Tuesday evening June 26 in the Selectman’s room at Town Hall. What do you want them to do? It would be great if all those who want to give the Board some input on this issue could be there to have a say.
Thanks for your consideration.