By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – The Board of Selectmen held a joint meeting with the Public Lands Committee at their Jan. 14 meeting.
Members of the committee present were Board Chair Maurice DePalo, Martha Gach, Keith Baldinger and Christopher Kirk. Members not present included Susan Colwell, Judy Vedder, Mary Ellen Radovanic. Dan McCullen served as Staff Support. DePalo spoke on behalf of the committee, sharing its progress.
The purpose of the committee was to evaluate each parcel of town-owned land for use, disposition, limitations or conditions associated with each parcel and creating a comprehensive inventory of land.
“We ran into an issue when the Building Committee started looking for a site for the Beal School and thought they might’ve had a site, but it was under Article 97 which meant it was protected land,” DePalo explained.
The committee met in September of 2018. Four hundred forty-six town-owned parcels were identified and the committee divided the properties among them. Each member researched deeds held on their assigned properties to determine conditions and limitations put on the land when it was acquired by the town.
The committee, with the support of McCullen, then categorized the properties according to use, number of parcels and acreage.
With that information, McCullen created a color-coded map that will soon go live on the town’s website. With one click, the deed of any town-owned property can be accessed along with corelating information.
DePalo noted that there were only 19 properties that they couldn’t find deeds for.
The work of the committee is now complete. He said that the committee is willing to continue the process to look for opportunities to acquire additional parcels, potentially for conservation purposes.
“I think this is fabulous work and the deliverable is going to be helpful for the town for a long time…to know your inventory of what you have and what restrictions may be on it is huge,” noted Selectman John Lebeaux.
Gach remarked that she appreciates that the board found the work valuable.
“I think it allows us to be strategic about future planning as we go forward and we are thinking about open space and we are thinking about community character,” she said. “We now have a tool.”