FRAMINGHAM – The late Rep. Chris Walsh was a huge advocate for protecting working farms, and maintaining green space in Framingham.
He wanted former Town Meeting to purchase the Millwood golf course and save it from development. He advocated for a transfer of development rights proposal to save working farms from disappearing. He was a supporter of state parks and public trails.
But in the past decade, the amount of Green Space is Framingham is disappearing.
More than 2,000 apartments have been approved for South of Route 9, and developments have been built on the Marist property and proposed for Millwood Golf.
A green space is a community space consisting of land as opposed to buildings.
The goal of green space is to have areas of grass and or trees for recreational or aesthetic purposes. The goal doesn’t always have to be parks and trails for the public, it can just be saving land from development.
Walkable neighborhoods, parks, and open green spaces draw people outside and foster social interactions, according to the U.S. EPA.
About the Election
On Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day, Framingham voters will select one Republican, one Democrat, and possibly one Libertarian to appear on the November ballot. Voters in Precincts (not City Districts) 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15 will see no names on any of those three ballots however. With the death of Rep. Walsh in May there was not time for any candidate to gather signatures and appear on the ballot. Thus, every candidate that wants the 6th Middlesex state representative seat must run a write-in campaign. There are five candidates who have announced write-in campaigns – four Democrats and one Republican. The Democrats are Mary Kate Feeney, Mike Gatlin, Maria Robinson, and Mark Tilden. The Republican is Tom Blandford. The individuals who receives the most votes in any party ballot (minimum of 150 votes) will appear on the November ballot. In Framingham, as in the state, the majority of registered voters are unenrolled, which means they have no party affiliation. Unenrolled voters may choose a Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian ballot on Tuesday, Sept 4 and write in the candidate of their choice. The announced Democratic candidates are encouraging voters to pull a Democratic ballot and write their name, and the Republican candidate is encouraging unenrolled voters to pull a Republican ballot and write his name.
Back to the issues.
Source asked the write-in candidates a series of questions, earlier this month. Each day this week and next week, the answers to the questions are being published to help voters make a choice.
Today’s question — Protecting green space is important to voters in your district. What can you do if elected to save green space in the City of Framingham?
TILDEN: Set up a Trust to purchase land to save it from development. Grant property owners who attach covenants to their deeds restricting development significant tax relief.
ROBINSON: As a state legislator, I would increase the Conservation Land Tax Credit to incentivize the use of donations of private land to benefit both the city and the landowner. The state government has in place a program (one that was well funded in this year’s Environmental Bond Bill, in large part thanks to Senator Spilka) that allows the government to purchase open space in order to preserve it.
Framingham needs to be part of the conversation with the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to ensure that we are meeting the application requirements to be considered for this program.
Unfortunately, Framingham did not pass the Community Preservation Act (CPA) when it was first introduced, and at this point in time, the CPA state matching funds are minimal outside of Boston.
Should Framingham pass the CPA in the near future, I would advocate strongly that the matching funds be distributed more evenly across the state
FEENEY: Growing up in Framingham, there was always an adventure awaiting us outside. Summer days were spent running track at Bowditch Field or hiking in Callahan State Park, while spring evenings allowed for innings of baseball at our fields. Our bikes were the transportation we needed to get around the neighborhood.
It was through all of these activities I gained a love for the outdoors and a deep motivation to preserve our environment for future generations.
With the anti-environmental policies and attitude coming out of Washington, D.C., it is up to us in Framingham and Massachusetts to continue making our communities more green.
As our full time state representative, these issues will be a top priority:
- Expand rail trails, walking and bike trails, such as continuing the work on connecting the Bruce Freeman Trail to Framingham, to provide more transportation options;
- Preserve our open space and recreational areas, including our working farms, farmers’ markets and community gardens;
- Enhance Farm Pond by connecting it to Downtown Framingham and expanding recreational opportunities for all ages;
The future of Eastleigh Farm is an issue facing our community. We have been hearing about the possibility of development of the farm for awhile – and now the time has arrived. We must work together to prevent another Millwood situation.
As state representative, I will seek state funding to acquire conservation easements and the acres of the farm that would connect Callahan State Park.
Eastleigh Farm is more than saving open space – it is about preserving a part of our history and our community. We pride ourselves on our diversity, well that isn’t simply about people, it is about our landscape, our heritage. There are so many facets that make up Framingham and this is one of them.
Greener communities mean a better quality of life for all of our residents. Representative Chris Walsh understood this fully and was a leading voice on these issues.
As our full time state representative, I am committed to continuing his work and making these plans into reality.
What we enjoy today should not be in jeopardy tomorrow. Together we can work together for a greener future.
GATLIN: Encouraging development in already developed areas of Framingham would reduce pressure, from a revenue point of view, to develop open space. Together with state assistance, the increased tax revenues might even allow the city to acquire open space and place it in a land bank. In this case, economic development and protection of open space go hand in hand.
BLANDFORD: One of the things I would look into is our laws that are already in place to protect our green space and if needed I would work to revitalize any laws that were simply not working. I would implement new laws with stricter guide lines.
Littering would have heavy fines just for starters.
Editor’s Note: The candidates were given 500 words or less for a response. The responses are published below, as received, unless they went over 500 words, and then the news site cut the answer at the sentence closest to 500 words.