The following is an editorial from the Worcester Telegram.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
This much is certain: The Beaton Farm property in Sutton offers a magnificent and unspoiled view of Manchaug Pond from historic Waters Farm.
But when it comes to the eleventh-hour battle to “save the land from development,” it is much less clear that the property is in dire danger.
On the one hand, local conservationists, spearheaded by the Manchaug Pond Foundation, are hoping to raise $1.32 million by July 16 to buy 76 acres on behalf of the town, thus preserving it in perpetuity. On the other hand, the College of the Holy Cross has offered $1.9 million to the owners to purchase the 76 acres plus acreage along the pond’s shore, for siting a retreat center.
Often, tussles over New England’s vanishing landscape are stark choices between leaving the land as is, or letting it sprout single-family homes.
There’s no doubt that if Holy Cross obtains the property, some development will take place, but if the college’s plans are as advertised, a 30,000-square-foot retreat center can probably coexist with the woods, wildlife and sense of place that makes the area so special. It would, indeed, make little sense for Holy Cross to put down $1.9 million plus the costs of site development, only to destroy the very essence of the parcel itself.
There’s a common goal here — preserving a precious bit of old New England for many generations to come. We believe both sides share that understanding. Whichever side makes the purchase, we believe the Beaton Farm property has a long and happy future ahead of it.