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Opinion: Bullard Farm Grounds Are Irreplaceable

As a solar facility proposed for Bullard Farm inches forward, Martha DeWolf, a former Bullard Memorial Farm Association member, gives her opinion on building solar panels on the historic farmland.

By Martha DeWolf

I am writing regarding the proposed on Bullard Memorial Farm Association property. As a descendant of Henry Bullard, former member of the BMFA, former farm manager for the BMFA and current biographer of the nineteenth century Bullard farm, I know the property very well.

The entire Bullard Memorial Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the historic Native American "planting fields" which are currently the site for the proposed solar array. Historically, the planting fields have been well-known for the presence of arrowheads and other stone-age tools.

A Cultural Resource Survey of the Bullard farm was conducted between 1989 and 1990 in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and is on file with the state. The survey found intact hearth sites and other woodland-period evidence of habitation and use of the property in the area of the planting fields.

In 1991 the BMFA argued that the land itself was an irreplaceable archeological resource due to the presence of some 300 prehistoric artifacts and was the possible site for future archeological research. They also argued that the probability of Native American remains could be found on the property was very high.

In 2009 the BMFA entered into negotiations with the Town of Holliston to donate much of the Bullard farm to the Town under a Conservation Restriction and the proposal was approved at Town Meeting, allowing much of the farm to be available for passive recreational use by the townspeople. Yet, when the time came to move the proposal along to the legislature, the paperwork was apparently never filed.

The BMFA is a 501 (c) 3 "educational" and "historical" corporation and yet according to their own Form 990 they only realised $1000 in educational programming. They hosted four educational events in a year and during the Holliston Farms day open house, were only available for two hours in a daylong program.

What has happened at the BMFA? An organization that only a few years ago was focused on conserving the land through a conservation restriction is now proposing to generate electricity with little or no benefit to the town or themselves at the expense of an irreplaceably historic landscape.

Thomas Gilbert January 23, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I read comments from people who ask what all the fuss is about or say grow up or change happens. What would you say to people who would want to destroy Paul Revere's house to construct an office tower or eliminate Old North Chruch because we need more parking. The Bullard Farm is Holliston's Paul Revere House and its Old North Church and it is an important part of its history as well as Sherborn, Millis, and Medway. If we agree a solar power plant is acceptable, will it then be acceptable to build a biomass power plant and cut down the woods to feed it. Once your hertiage i gone, it cannot be restored. If Bullard Farm does need funds to contine its preservation efforts, there are people and organizations willing to help in order to preserve this historical land. You can demonstrate how serious your preservation intentions are by reaching out now to the public and private groups that serve Holliston.

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