The list of property donated to SOLF over the years continues to grow, ranging from odd one-acre parcels, to the 58.5 acres of Beals’ Preserve. Regardless of size, these gifts to SOLF help fulfill one of stated goals from a town-wide survey of Southborough residents in recent years: to maintain the rural character of Southborough.
Even the most modest donation can make a difference. The Clark property, a one-acre plot that abuts the Southborough Center for the Arts, may be used in the future for recreational space, perhaps for a tennis court or playground.
The Lambert property is a one-and-a-half acre parcel on the east side of Cordaville Road at Richards Road, preserving the rural ambiance of that neighborhood, and in the vicinity of the recent Templeman gift of 7.7 acres of open space north of the Mass Pike and east of Route 85.
The Templeman property abuts Cordaville Road and extends towards Sunrise and Ashley Drive, and in turn connects with the town’s new Hampton-Smith conservation land of 11.5 acres between Ashley and Cordaville. The zoning of the Hampton-Smith property was voted at the April 1997 Town Meeting to be changed from residential to conservation.
Thirteen acres and a lovely sweeping view was preserved between Wyndemere Drive and Sears Road through an innovative fundraising/buyout effort by area residents who then turned the property over to SOLF. This land includes a vernal pond that has been used by residents for ice skating in winter, and enables another generation of children to experience the fun of catching tadpoles and watching the stately great blue heron.
In the same neighborhood is the Presidential Drive property donated by the Jasinksi family several years ago. Fourteen acres of swamp land off Presidential Drive, it is bordered by the Conrail tracks, MDC land, and Beals’ property off Chestnut Hill Road. According to SOLF’s Peter Kallander, this property originally belonged to Mrs. Bradley, who was the daughter of the eminent Southborough Sears family of years gone by, and grew up in the restored mansion on the corner of Sears Road and Main Street. As a married woman, Mrs. Bradley lived in the stately old mansion situated further up Sears Road, and according to Peter Kallander’s history of the land, she had a wagon path constructed around the swamp, so that she could take family members for a ride on a Sunday afternoon.
Helen (Puff) Uhlman of Sears Road, granddaughter of Mrs. Bradley, doesn’t recall the wagon path as such, but does remember Sunday visits to Grandma Bradley, and her pony cart. “It had a little door on the side of the cart that opened up, and I do remember stepping up into it,” Puff said. “We always had Sunday lunch up at the big house.”
Puff also remembers going horseback riding through the Jasinski property with Bill Binder, who worked for the Water Department, acting as guide. “Bill Binder rode Western, and he literally walked as though he had a barrel between his legs,” Uhlman recalled with a smile. “I remember him leading us through those woods.
Another parcel donated to SOLF came from the Northland Corporation, which gave 12 acres of land between the Westbound side of Route 9, and Orchard Drive off Flagg Road. This gift ensured a permanent buffer zone between Route 9 and the residences.
The 19-acre parcel off Bigelow given by Harvey and Elizabeth Bigelow connects with the larger Sawink Farm conservation land in Westborough that is owned by the Sudbury Valley Trustees, so it is once again helping preserve large tracts of natural habitat for wildlife, as well as protecting the water table for town wells and natural drainage.
Our most recent property is Lynbrook Hollow, a 5.5 acre piece of property off Lynbrook Road, donated to SOLF in 2019 by the L’Abri Fellowship of Southborough. Future plans call for some of the L’Abri students and SOLF volunteers to improve and extend the existing trail in order to create a loop.
SOLF Trustee Debbie Costine has prepared a brief history of SOLF, which you can read below.
The motivating force behind SOLF was Larry Susskind, a professor of Urban Planning at MIT, who built his house on Jericho Hill Rd. in 1976 At that time, he claims, there were almost as many cows in town as people but the appealing fields and pastures of farmland were being swallowed up rapidly by subdivisions. Three years later in 1979, out of concern for unplanned growth, and with support from the Selectmen, the Planning Board, and the Conservation Commission Susskind helped to organize a Southborough Citizens Planning effort.
From that project three original needs were identified:
1. to raise money to buy land (or at least development rights) so that environmentally and historically important parcels could be protected.
2. to help encourage the building of affordable housing.
3. to advocate for more and better land-use planning so that the unique features that give Southborough its distinctive identity might be protected.
A newly formed SOUTHBOROUGH OPEN LAND FOUNDATION, raised money to hire an Executive Director, and in 1988 became a 501 c (3) non-profit corporation, with the aim of focusing on need numbers 1 & 3. An early project was to lobby for a town planner, which was accomplished.
Now, 30 years later, nearly 200 acres throughout the town has been preserved as open space for all to enjoy, thanks to the vision of Larry Susskind and the founding board of SOLF who received help from Sudbury Valley Trustees in starting SOLF. Much of Chestnut Hill Farm as well as the Beals Preserve would be large subdivisions without their vision and hard work. Not only have large parcels of walkable land been preserved, but areas of wetlands that have tremendous environmental importance have also been saved. And we have little pockets of land in neighborhoods where in the future, some child might go play in the woods.
The original goals of SOLF remain important and still need work.
We always welcome those who wish to join us in the effort!