Letter to the Editor, November 1, 2017: Special Town Meeting Article 18 – Land Acquisition Fund


By Holly Bloomfield

Well, this seems like a real sleeper and a done deal, doesn’t it? “Why should I attend a Town Meeting until very late to talk about this”? Please read on. The answer is in the small print.

At first glance, this article seems friendly and applies to acquiring lands for wonderful purposes like conservation, recreation and historic preservation, all in keeping with the Community Preservation Act. Yes, it does. But embedded in this article are properties the Town wants for other uses beyond the Community Preservation Act, so you need to look deeper.

In reality, Article 18 also affects ANY landowner in town with a property that abuts MUNICIPAL or SCHOOL land, as well as their neighbors and their neighborhood. It gives far-reaching power to the Town of Bedford to do anything it wants with any of the listed parcels sold to them. It abolishes the need for the Town to come again before Town Meeting to state their purpose with the land or request appropriations. Article 18, if passed, allows important land acquisitions to remain quiet and unaccountable to the People. Article 18 also removes all limits on the land’s’ use once acquired.

If you vote in favor of Article 18, assuming it is a friendly article about recreation, conservation and preserving town history, you are now giving up your rights and the rights of others. Wow! All that in a sleepy article presented at midnight? You might think, “No, this only happens in Washington, not in kind, friendly, open Bedford where all registered voters are welcome at Town Meeting”. Look further.

“Where does it say this”, you ask? Article 18 reads… “to amend the article 20 from the 2014 Annual Town Meeting”… “and further amend, by raising and appropriating, transferring from available funds, borrowing or otherwise providing the sum of $200,000 or any other sum for said real property acquisition for ANY municipal or school use.

Any use? Really? Does that mean a communication tower? A sewage treatment plant? A parking lot? A road? A water tower?  A place to store dumpsters? The list goes on. Will we be driving around town asking, “Where did that ugly thing come from”?  The Town will say, “It was voted in at Town Meeting”.

Believe it or not, civically minded citizens who sell their land to the Town “for the common good” may never know how it will be used. The sale of their land may affect their neighbors and their neighborhood in a negative way. It could diminish property values, add noise or light pollution, allow for the destruction of the Town’s tree assets.

All of this is done under the guise of the Community Preservation Act.  In fact, this type of land acquisition has nothing to do with Community Preservation. Municipal and School use properties must be accountable and transparent to us all!  They also must be voted in and not after the land has already been acquired. You will be told that there is a need to move quickly on real estate these days and that is true, but giving “carte blanche” to the Town is not the way to do it.

Please come to Town Meeting and ask questions and propose changes. Otherwise, we will all live with the consequences of future decisions, which seem beyond our control, but were approved at Town Meeting.  Thank you.

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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Patty Dahlgren
4 years ago

Thank you! This is quite a wake-up call.

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