Billings Land Preserved by Public and Private Donors

By Alice Cheyer

Billings BrookMany residents of Sharon and nearby towns believe that wild land should be preserved for public use—especially since the pool of undeveloped land is shrinking and will continue to do so as the U.S. population increases exponentially. And they are willing to “put their money where their mouth is” to ensure preservation of some green spaces where people can go for rest and respite in the inevitably crowded and paved-over future (even people without private estates or the means to buy them).

Over 100 donors sent sums ranging from $10 to $20,000 to the Sharon Friends of Conservation / Massapoag Brook Neighborhood Association to supplement the Town-appropriated $750,000 for the preservation of the 11.2 acres bounded by Billings Street, Glenview/Glendale Roads, and Robs Lane—a lovely area of wetlands, forest, a trail, and vernal pools that is part of a 33-acre greenway between Mann’s Pond and Devil’s Brook and beyond. View a map of the area.

The furthest donor sent mail from deployment in Cairo, Egypt. Nine donors from California, Florida, and Massachusetts on contributed $176.67. Fields Pond Foundation granted $10,000, and the Sharon Credit Union gave $1,000. The generosity of three members of the legal fraternity gives the lie to lawyer jokes. The Sharon Conservation Commission is rendering extraordinary service in this cause. A purchase-and-sale agreement was signed on August 28; the closing is expected in January. SFOC plans a walk on the land next spring or fall.

When my father and I were living in a refugees’ boarding house in New York City in the 1940s, my father—tired after a week’s exhausting labor and chemical fumes in a dye factory—occasionally spent 5 cents (I ducked under the turnstile) and took us on a long, clattering subway ride to Van Cortlandt Park, where he would fall asleep under a tree. I always remember that, and though I grew up in the city, when I came to Sharon, that tree bloomed again out of memory and came to symbolize the need we all have for rest and peaceful places.