The First Report on White Pond 1992
October 8, 1992
Board of Selectmen
Concord, MA 01742
Re: White Pond Reservation
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Under cover of this letter you will find a preliminary report concerning the land management plan for the 40-acre parcel of land acquired by the Town earlier this year in the TPL/UNISYS transaction. The report was prepared by the White Pond Reservation Task Force under the guidance of the Task Force’s liaison, Carolyn Flood, and with the assistance of Judith Sprott, who has provided information and research.
The Task Force’s present objective is to obtain the Board’s concurrence with the general recommendations of the report and the format of the management plan. The Task Force will then prepare and present to the Board a short-term action plan for the property. This should be accomplished by mid-November. The Task Force’s ultimate objective is to prepare, in consultation with involved Town boards and staff and with interested civic groups, a full-scale land management plan for the property. We anticipate that this effort will require six to nine months of work.
You will note that the primary recommendation of our report is that the Reservation be treated very much like conservation land. We anticipate that the fully considered and documented plan will confirm the readily apparent value of the property as open land that complements and enhances the Conservation land, Town well land, and other protected land on the western shore of White Pond to which it is contiguous. The plan should have the effect of safeguarding the water quality of White Pond and the White Pond well. Finally, the plan will make recommendations regarding the ongoing remediation of contaminated groundwater at the property.
We appreciate the opportunity to advise you on this significant property acquistion and look forward to completing our task.
White Pond Reservation Task Force
Daniel Holmes, Craig MacDonnell, Daniel Monahan, Jane Prentiss, Gordon Shaw
FIRST PRELIMINARY REPORT OF THE
WHITE POND RESERVATION TASK FORCE
OCTOBER 8, 1992
On January 31, 1992 the Town of Concord acquired a 40.45 acre parcel of land which extends southward from the shore of White Pond to the Sudbury town line. The purchase was authorized by the 1991 Town Meeting, at which citizens voted overwhelmingly to acquire the land for "conservation, recreation, wetlands protection, housing or any municipal purpose”. The acquisition was the product of years of effort by Town officials including the Board of Selectman and Town Manager, Town boards including the Natural Resources Commission, and the White Pond Advisory Committee, and numerous private citizens and groups, particularly the Friends of White Pond.
The overriding objectives of the acquisition were to protect Town water resources and to provide townspeople with an exceptional natural resource for passive recreation and education. By controlling the property, Concord could then protect it from inappropriate and excessive uses that had been tolerated by neglect (swimming, fires, drinking, off road vehicles) or had been proposed (high density housing, golf course).
The acquisition could not have been accomplished without the extraordinary efforts of the Trust for Public Lands and its director, Peter Forbes. TPL played a critical role by investing its own funds in the transaction and by working closely with the seller (the UNISYS Corporation) and the Town of Sudbury to settle difficult issues between them, thereby allowing Sudbury to acquire a significant tract of open land and wetlands that form part of Sudbury's scenic corridor along Route 117.
The overall transaction consisted of the UNISYS Corporation subdividing its 141-acre parcel and conveying three lots to three different buyers: TPL purchased a 25 acre parcel in Sudbury on which the old Sperry Rand research and development facility is located, Sudbury purchased a 76- acre parcel in Sudbury, and Concord acquired the 40- acre portion of the parcel located in Concord. See the maps attached as Exhibits A l, A 2 and A 3 [not included]. After holding its parcel for eight months, TPL sold the Sperry Rand site to Cummings Properties of Woburn, MA. As of this date, it is reported that Cummings has not formulated a definitive plan for its parcel.
The purchase price for Concord's 40 acre acquisition was $323,435, or roughly $8,000 per acre. This price is a considerable discount from the value UNISYS had placed on the land in prior discussion with Sudbury and TPL. The source of funds was $300,000 from the Land Fund and $23,435, which the Friends of White Pond raised from over 50 private individuals and groups.
The property will require special attention from the Town because of the presence of groundwater contamination. The contamination, which is localized near the Town line in the southeast corner of the property, is being remediated by the UNISYS Corporation under the supervision of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA.
UNISYS, TPL, Sudbury, Concord, and now Cummings, are parties to a Collateral Sharing and Enforcement Agreement that provides additional assurances that UNISYS will complete the clean up. The Task Force will address Concord's role in the cleanup process and make such recommendations as we find appropriate.
White Pond Reservation is an important acquisition for the Town, primarily because of its rich natural resources. Its 1,200 feet of unimproved shoreline on White Pond, together with contiguous shoreline on Concord conservation land and on the Stone Root Lane common land, constitute approximately one third of the entire shoreline of White Pond. The Reservation contains a significant portion of the watershed of White Pond and much of the cone of influence of the Town well, which is adjacent to the Reservation. It is also the headwaters of a significant watershed, which includes the White Pond well site, land subject to agricultural preservation restrictions, Sudbury's Well #5 site, the Cold Brook and Pantry Brook Wildlife Refuge and the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge along the Sudbury River. The Reservation offers a range of unspoiled ecosystems, including pond frontage, wetlands, mature forest, and open field. Though it was privately owned prior to the acquisition, it has for years been used by residents for walking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, fishing and skating. It also forms part of an important open space corridor in Concord and Sudbury that supports a diverse wildlife population.
The Reservation, together with contiguous open space and conservation land in Concord and Sudbury, should be maintained as an undisturbed haven for townspeople and wildlife. The ecological health of White Pond will be spared the threat of development and overuse. The Town well will be spared unnecessary reductions in groundwater quality. Townspeople will benefit from the recreational and educational opportunities offered by the Reservation and neighboring parcels.
The land use plan for White Pond Reservation will take these factors into account. It will call for the Reservation to be maintained in its natural state, except for relatively minor alterations designed to protect its features and enhance its use for passive recreation and education. If appropriate, the plan will contain recommendations concerning ongoing groundwater remediation efforts.
SHORT - TERM TASKS
Several short term tasks at the Reservation have been undertaken to address the immediate needs of the property. Since 1983, the Sperry Rand facility has been vacant. As a consequence, the acreage surrounding the facility was not controlled or maintained in any meaningful way. Pond frontage was used for unrestricted swimming and nighttime drinking parties; trash was left on the property; fisherman made fires along the shore; snowmobiles and minibikes destroyed ground cover resulting in serious erosion problems; outbuildings fell into disrepair; roadways became eroded; and wildlife habitats were threatened. These circumstances were not desirable for townspeople or the property.
The White Pond Reservation Task Force has undertaken the critical first steps to address these problems. Further steps, as outlined below, should also be taken in the near term.
1. Erosion Control
The dirt access road leading to Sachem's Cove had been rutted and was channeling storm water runoff into White Pond. Runoff carries nutrients into the Pond, promoting algae growth and harming aquatic life. The Task Force asked the Town DPW to regrade the road, which was done during the summer of 1992. However, late summer storms caused serious channeling and further regrading will probably be required, as well as rebuilding a small berm at the bottom of the road. These measures should allow any residual runoff to percolate into the ground rather than flow directly into the pond.
The large "dune" adjacent to Sachem's Cove requires attention to arrest the erosion caused by heavy dirtbike and foot traffic. Pending further investigation of appropriate measures to deal with this problem, it is anticipated that the dune will be protected from further damage by closing it off with a snow fence.
The long-term plan will include measures to stabilize and revegetate the Pond frontage to control runoff and nutrient loading.
2. Public Safety
During the summer of 1992, the Task Force organized a group of citizen volunteers and Town employees who dismantled two structures, a changing shack and outhouse, that were dilapidated and potentially dangerous. Some debris has yet to be removed. The group also removed farm debris (buckets, bottles, cans) from a swale adjacent to the changing shack.
The Task Force arranged for the Acting Town Manager, the Police Chief, and the Fire Chief to walk the property. They are now familiar with the means of access in the event an emergency arises.
Additional steps to promote public safety should be undertaken in the near term. Certain of these steps will require the allocation of funds in the Police Department, DPW and Natural Resources budgets, to wit:
a. Schedule foot patrols of the property by regular police or conservation officers, particularly on hot summer days and evenings, to enforce prohibitions against swimming, fires and nighttime use.
b. Remove all barbed wire from the boundaries of the property, particularly along the railroad right of way and the Stone Root Lane common land.
c. Complete the removal of all the debris from the changing shack and the outhouse and from the swale; remove the rusted barbecue grills from Sachem's Cove.
The Task Force arranged for the production and installation of four identical signs on the property that should promote appropriate uses of the Reservation. A photograph of one of the signs appears below.
Additional signs should be produced and placed on trees in strategic locations, reminding users of
specific prohibitions or indicating a boundary of the Reservation or the location of trails.
A sign indicating that restoration work is in progress should be placed near the dune or on the snow fence.
DEVELOPMENT OF A LONG TERM MANAGEMENT PLAN
The long term land use plan for White Pond Reservation will concentrate on preserving and protecting its special natural resources and making them available to residents for passive recreation and educational purposes. Input from involved Town Boards, staff personnel, commissions and committees, as well as private individuals who have offered their time and expertise, will be solicited and considered in drafting the plan. The Town of Sudbury and Cummings Properties will be consulted on a regular basis. Certain topics such as groundwater protection and wildlife habitats may require the assistant of expert professionals. The Task Force's objective is to complete its work in a six to nine month period.
The plan will (i) describe the Reservation, including its physical setting, historical significance, geology, topography, vegetation, wildlife and man made features, (ii) describe current uses of the property, (iii) describe the potential values of the property, and (iv) set out goals for the property and the means of implementing specific recommendations. The proposed format of the plan is attached as Exhibit B.[not included].
Once the plan is complete, we anticipate that the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager will delegate responsibility for full implementation of the plan to the Natural Resources Commission. The NRC will consult with the Department of Planning and Land Management, Finance Committee, the Board of Health, the Public Works Department, White Pond Advisory Committee and other interested groups as it carries out the initiatives described in the Plan.
A modest amount of Town resources will need to be allocated in order to put the plan into effect. The Conservation officer's budget may need to be augmented in order to provide adequate supervision of the site. Police presence will be necessary to enforce basic restrictions. Signage and one or more gates should be installed and maintained. The regular removal of trash from appropriately sited receptacles should be arranged. Trail maps and informative materials should be made available to townspeople. All of these items should be considered as the various Town departments evaluate their budget requirements.
The first step in developing a long term land management plan will be accomplished by having the Board of Selectman endorse this preliminary report. We would ask the Selectmen to do so at their earliest convenience. Members of the Task Force will be pleased to respond to any comments or questions that the Selectmen may have.
White Pond Reservation Task Force