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What Should City Do With Spence Farm Parcel? [POLL]

Save Spence Farm group has proposed a golf driving range.

The Save Spence Farm group unveiled its plan for a parcel—a driving range.

According to the group, this parcel may become a housing development.

Tell us what you think below. What should happen to this Spence Farm parcel?

Jean January 27, 2012 at 12:22 PM
How about farming the land and using the fresh vegetables for school lunches and to those in need in our community. We could use this as a teaching tool for schools.
Becky January 27, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I like Jean's idea, or some variation thereof. Use it as additional Community Garden space...isn't there a waiting list for that?
Anne January 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I agree with both the comments....the problem is it has been said by city officials unless there is a plan in place to pay for the purchase then the city will not proceed in the purchase of the land. In 2010 when the Spence parcel was bought by the city the additional meals tax was put in place to assist in covering the bond for both the Spence and Whispering Hill parcel. The city is recognizing a lot of money from this additional tax but not enough to cover the bond for more land. So the question is how do you make money to cover the bond so the city can afford the land? The driving range is one way. I too would like other things(farmland, gardens, baseball and soccer fields) but I definitely would hate to see more houses. The purchase of this 14 acre parcel is a stop gap to increased flooding in the area...then the city could look at the engineering to assist neighborhoods that have such intense flooding. Please if you think the land should not be developed call or email the Mayor and ask him to exercise the right of first refusal. Anne
Barbara Burnes January 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I would like walk path like Horn Pond. Barb
Krista Guenin January 27, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Jean's idea is great!
Amanda Kersey January 27, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Are there any additional taxes that Woburn residents would be willing to pay (like the meals tax) to help cover the cost of the city purchasing this piece of land?
Seamus January 27, 2012 at 06:56 PM
There has been talk of a new Hurld/Wyman school lately. Instead of trying to jam a new school on to one of those existing properties this parcel could possibly be used with plenty of land left over for scoccer/baseball/softball fields. The Central Square Fire Station has boarded up windows and cracks on the exterior walls maybe it also could be moved to this location.
charles January 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM
It great to buy but at what price to the taxpayers? The meals tax does not cover the bond for the other two parcels. Whatever we do the burden will be on us the taxpayers. I ask you do we want more taxes?
Vince Grillo January 28, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I think Charles is quite right to be concerned about increased taxes, but please consider the following. If I am reading the state website information correctly, our meals tax generated $823,387.87 during the last four fiscal quarters. Using a quick Excel calculator, that amount would cover the cost of an $11,000,000 loan financed at 4.5% over twenty years. I believe that is about what we paid for both Spence Farm and Whispering Hill. Also please consider the fact that study after study indicates the cost of additional services in a close suburban setting always EXCEEDS the additional tax revenue generate rated from those residences. If you consider that there will be about 60 more houses built in the Wyman St. area, we should get ready to build another new school, among other city services
David Eggleton January 28, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I clicked "Other" because the given options necessarily leave out so much. My understanding is 1) that the owners have a purchase and sale agreement with a developer, 2) that there will be a housing development on the site if the city does not exercise its right to purchase it at the contract price, 3) the driving range is the lone alternative vision, so far, chosen especially because it can be a revenue generator. Feeling for the people whose nearby properties are experiencing increased frequency and intensity of flooding due to other recent developments in the neighborhood, I would prefer a land use capable of putting more water into plant growth and steady soil depth (carbon) increase. So that golf balls may be found and retrieved easily, the ground cover of the driving range will not provide those benefits. There will be open space, but not a water exploiting set of processes. If the driving range materializes, I hope that organic turf care will be stipulated for the sake of downstream lives (non-human and human) and workers and other visitors to the site. It is proven in this region.
Hoonia January 28, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I'd like to see recreational facilities and a community garden.
Carol Youngclaus January 28, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I notice that the second highest response rate in your survey favors leaving the land as it is, and I want to point out that no change is unfortunately NOT an option. The Spence family wants to (and has a right to) sell the land, at which point the property *will* change. So the choice is really between a large-scale development, presumably of some 40ish new large houses, and a viable proposal that will keep the land open and prevent further flooding in the surrounding community without negatively impacting the city's financial well-being. Yes, under the golf proposal there would be an initial investment for the city to exercise its right of first refusal, but that investment would be recouped very quickly and would be followed by a positive revenue stream. With both property values and interest rates at an unprecedented low right now, this would be a great investment for the city ... and if for any reason the plan should not work out as researched and projected, the land would still be open and available for sale or other municipal use. Either way, the city would profit, perhaps greatly.
Susan Gibbons Flood January 28, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Why don't we take a page from the Cummings? Let's build a City owned restaurant/function hall. All profits go back to the City and rotate through the Departments per year/month. Their could be outside seating for the Summer and gardens for photographs. Any left over land could be a community garden which of course the facility would patronize. Just an idea!

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