Article 1 Land Acquisition – 585 Main Street
The Acton Water District operates 22 groundwater wells throughout Acton. The areas that contribute water to these wells are located both in Acton and in neighboring communities. Although local bylaws offer some level of protection to the water quantity and quality associated with these withdrawal points, control of the land surrounding our wells provides the highest and best protection available to us. As part of our duty to protect Acton’s water resources for the future, obtaining key watershed areas is something we periodically undertake. This would add to the over 410 acres of land currently owned and managed by the District.
The 11.23 acres of land at 585 Main Street is an undeveloped parcel of land that has been managed for forestry since the installation of the Conant 1 well in 1956. The Conant 1 parcel and 585 Main Street were once in common ownership. It is comprised entirely of Groundwater Protection District Zones 1 and 2. Current uses surrounding the Conant 1 well include low density residential, commercial, and open space. Most of the parcel is upland and supports a managed stand of predominately white and red pine. A small area of wetlands is located in the northeast corner while an open meadow is in the southwest corner of the property abutting Main Street. A public sidewalk runs along the western property bound and a small cellar hole and spring house is located off of Brook Street. Development potential of this land has been identified as being expeditiously possible by way of four Approval Not Required (ANR) lots. If a developer chose to conduct more engineering and permitting work, it is unknown how densely the property could be developed.
Over the past few months, the District has been afforded the opportunity to discuss the future of this parcel with the estate of Brewster Conant. Our due diligence did not bring to light any existing environmental issues as the land has been in the Conant family for generations. A fair market value sale has been agreed to in the amount of $1.095 Million. The current plan is to utilize short term bonding to finance this project. Early estimates indicate this would cost rate payers approximately $35 per year per unit served for the next 4 years. The District is currently looking into ways to offset this cost through grants and gifts but will fund it entirely if needed. The District would utilize the property for protecting the groundwater aquifers and recharge areas of the Conant 1 and Conant 2 wells, conserving the land for watershed protection purposes, and to meet the pertinent duties as a water district. The property would continue to be managed in largely the same manner as it has been under private ownership.
Article 2 Land Transfer from Town of Acton – 3-33 Knox Trail
The subject property is approximately 1.61 acres in size and is located between Knox Trail and the Assabet River. It is currently in the tax title process, awaiting the Massachusetts Land Court’s final transfer to the Town of Acton (Case No. 01-TL 126309). Once complete, this Article would authorize the transfer of control of the parcel to the Acton Board of Selectmen in order to convey it to a third party. The Acton Water District has expressed interest to the Town of Acton in acquiring the parcel for protection of existing water sources and continuing oversight of Superfund site clean-up efforts. This article passed 134 yes to 4 no at the Town of Acton Annual Town Meeting held April 2 and 3, 2018.