Trail Lot to Unite High Street Property, Hale Reservation

The lot will be ready for public use by the end of the summer.

Drivers along High Street in Westwood may have noticed some renovations to a newly-cleared area of land near the Sunoco Station as of late. 

The lot was formerly the location of a chicken farm known as Holbrok Farm, and is now simply referred to as .

Westwood residents Duncan and Ellen MacFarland - - currently own the plot of land, for which which the Westwood Land Trust is working to obtain a Conservation Restriction.

"The main piece, the big picture, is to preserve open space in Westwood," said Karen-Manor Metzold, WLT Vice President. "That's the global objective."

The Conservation Restriction, Metzold said, is a legal entity that will protect the entire property, and will prevent any buildings from ever being built there. 

"The big thing is to have more open space," Metzold said. "The Land Trust will be monitoring the Conservation Restriction, which will be held by the Land Trust."

The Westwood Planning Board granted for the proposed lot back in February.

Moreover, the Westwood Board of Selectmen last month gave its approval for the Conservation Restriction, which now must pass through the State Legislature, which Metzold said she hopes will approve the restriction by month's end.

That will be a stepping stone toward eventually owning and overseeing management of the property.

"I think, overall, it's great," said Hale Executive Director Eric Arnold. "Our mission is really two fold: to help conserve land and be protecting of land and stewards of property, and this is a huge part of that. This is a great opportunity to expand that a little bit and increase our role within the community."

The land comprises about 29.7 acres and lies adjacent the Perry Property, a parcel of land owned by Chestnut Hill resident Sam Perry's family since 1908. That area of land lies near Hartford and Mill Streets. 

"That's private land, but there will be hiking trails at 1255 High St.," Metzold said. "We did get an easement from the Perry Property; they agreed to an easement to go through (there) so that people can hike through High Street, through the Perry Property, and into Hartford Street."

But while the lot is essentially complete, it won't officially be open to the public until the end of the summer or early fall, when a formal opening event is expected to take place.

"This process that is going on is still privately-held right now," Arnold said. "It's not open to the public at this point. That will come at a later date . . . we don't even own it yet. We can't wait; the trails are not in yet, so there's really no where to go at this point."

The area is decorated with benches, a gravel parking lot fit with about 15 spaces, and a various spots of newly-planted trees and shrubs. No dogs will be allowed on the property, which Metzold said should help keep the area clean and allow for children who might be afraid of dogs to more freely play in the area.

Both Metzold and Arnold attributed the efforts of the project to the MacFarland property.

"They have been extremely generous and purchasing land in Westwood that has been up for sale, and not just up for sale but they have positioned themselves and are actively looking," Metzold said.

Added Arnold, "Ultimately, the fact that this is going to be available to the community is a testament to the MacFarlands and their commitment to bettering Westwood."


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