Town Meeting to Consider Land Purchase?

The Town of Needham is considering purchasing land from the Castle Farm property owned by the Foster Estate.

Reported by Yuxiao Yuan, Municipal Programming Producer
The town of Needham will ask Town Meeting members at the Special Town Meeting in October to authorize the purchase of 34.3 acres of open space near the Ridge Hill Reservation. The purchase will cost the town two and a half million dollars.

The town’s request includes the purchase of two parcels of land totaling 6.3 acres along Charles River Street, and an additional 28 acres of meadowland along the Charles River. The three parcels of land are a portion of the Castle Farm property owned by the Foster Estate, who sought to sell the entirety of the 64-acre Castle Farm.

At the Select Board meeting on Tuesday, September 13th, board chair Marianne Cooley explained the partnership between the town and the Concord-based developer Northland Residential, who is going to be the buyer of the rest of the property.

“We were made aware just over a year ago…that the property was going to be coming on the market, so in my view this is sort of a year in the making. At that time, the request was for the town to purchase the entire parcel, I’ll be honest, for a market price. And that would be quite challenging for us to do with all of the needs that we have in front of us. And we were trying to think about what that would look like, and would we be able to go to an override? Would we want to go to an override– we would have to go to an override to ask the citizens for funds to do such a thing–when we were approached by a developer about a lip on this particular local initiative project on this parcel of land. By working with the developer we have brought the plan forward.”

The total cost of the parcels to be purchased by the town and Northland is 21 million dollars, and two and a half million dollars would be town funding. Cooley continued,”We have indicated is that there are two three-acre parcels that run along Charles River Street the town intends to put a conservation restriction on those two parcels. The effect of putting a conservation restriction on those parcels means that we create a land-locked parcel behind that, so that it cannot be developed. We have further attested as a part of this purchase that we will not construct any major municipal buildings on the 28 acre parcel. All of that would come together in a way that we think offers a tremendous amenity to the town, with being able to walk straight through that beautiful meadow, out to Charles River.”

According to a press release issued by the town, Northland proposes to build a 70-unit, age-directed townhouse neighborhood that would include some affordable housing units.

This story ran as part of the Needham Channel News, a weekly newscast airing on The Needham Channel every Thursday at 7:30pm. The Needham Channel News can be found on the Community Channel: Comcast 9, Astound 15 and Verizon 29. Most Thursdays it also can be viewed on our HD Channel on Verizon 2129, Astound 613 and streaming on this site.
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