Rochester Acquires New Conservation Land

Another 70+ acres of land in Rochester will never be developed now that the conservation restriction and subsequent closing on the Estabrook property on Estabrook Way off Walnut Plain Road was made official on June 4.

The Rochester Board of Selectmen approved the conservation restriction that will protect the roughly 78 acres of land that includes direct access to the Walnut Plain Cedar Swamp, an especially unique and pristine habitat, said Rochester Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon.

This particular land acquisition is a special one, Farinon said, because not only is it the first piece of that type of habitat to be permanently protected in town, but it is also the first parcel of land to be permanently protected in that part of Rochester.

The Rochester Land Trust acquired a $35,000 grant from the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program to cover the costs associated with acquiring and protecting the land, and with the assistance of the Buzzards Bay Coalition, developed the conservation restriction selectmen signed that evening.

The Conservation Commission will be the holder of the conservation restriction while the Rochester Land Trust will be the official owner.

Two separate grants totaling $165,000 covered the costs associated with the land acquisition.

“On behalf of the Coalition and the Land Trust, I’m very excited to get this project squared away,” said Allen Decker Esq., director of land protection for the BBC.

RLT President Bob Lawrence said the land would be made accessible to the public, referring to the Shoolman Preserve off New Bedford Road as the concept planned for the latest acquisition.

In other matters, the board ratified the employment contract for Sargent “soon-to-be” Chief Robert Small.

The contract with a term of 33 ½ months takes effect at the stroke of midnight on September 15 upon current Police Chief Paul Magee’s official date of retirement. As part of that contract, Small, who currently resides in Whitman, will relocate closer to Rochester within 18 months.

“Thank you,” said Small, “and I’m looking forward to continuing all the relationships in town here … and I look forward to having even more involvement with everybody.”

The Town Hall meeting room is now fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with new automatic doors on its expanded side entrance, an expanded hallway doorway leading to the new ADA compliant restroom, and even those squeaky, ancient (not to mention uncomfortable) benches have been removed and replaced with more easily moveable padded chairs.

In other matters, Selectmen Chairman Greenwood “Woody” Hartley presented former Selectman Naida Parker (who is still the town clerk) with a certificate of commendation for her many years as a selectman.

Town Hall will be adopting its summer hours by closing early on Fridays at 1:00 pm July 6 until August 23.

The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for June 18at 6:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

Rochester Board of Selectmen

By Jean Perry


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