Preserving the Gavins Pond land

Preserving the Gavins Pond Land

As you may know, there have been repeated attempts in the past few years to place additional soccer fields on the land surrounding Gavins Pond.  Town Meeting voters rejected all of them. It surely is time for the Selectmen to take these opinions into account.

A warrant article for May 2017 Town Meeting asks the Selectmen to formalize the permanent protection of the the Gavins Pond land by placing it under the management of the Conservation Commission.

The Gavins Pond parcels (F and F1) were acquired by the town in 1986 “for aquifer protection purposes, including the Gavins Pond water supply well site.” Nevertheless, in 1993, two soccer fields were built next to the pond.

The Gavins Pond land, ~63 acres, is composed of forest, meadows, pond, and streams. It is in the Groundwater Protection district and overlies the Billings Brook aquifer and the town’s well #7. Sharon’s aquifers are the only source of our water supply, so it is very important to protect both the quantity and quality of the aquifers.

Athletic fields are not the best use for protecting the aquifer, and parking lots actually detract from this purpose. The fertilizers (and formerly, pesticides) used for maintenance, and the automotive fluids leaked by parked cars, add potentially harmful chemicals into the aquifer.  Irrigation draws it down, notably in summer when water resources are most strained by hot weather and high use.

This land has also been designated by the state Natural Heritage program as priority habitat for several rare wildlife species of plants, butterflies, insects, and turtles, all of which contribute to the area’s biodiversity and depend on this important resource for survival. The Eastern box turtle and the frosted elfin butterfly are two species of special concern that occupy this priority habitat.

The natural open space at Gavins Pond is used for passive recreation by walkers, joggers, fishermen, and families. Sharon’s reputation as a community that values its natural landscapes and water resources is an advantage (like good schools) that draws families here  —  to enjoy outdoor activities,  to come home after work to a fresh, cool landscape,  and to know they are contributing to sustainable living.

Town Meeting voters rejected efforts  in 2003, 2006, and 2016 to make more soccer fields at this location. Recognizing that the land surrounding Gavins Pond is environmentally sensitive, we have repeatedly expressed the wish to preserve it, and with this warrant article we ask the Selectmen to make this possible by transferring its management to the Conservation Commission. (The existing soccer fields are not included.)

This effort can only succeed with your strong and visible support.

Please attend Town Meeting on Monday, May 1, and Tuesday, May 2, and vote YES to preserve the Gavins Pond land.

Alice Cheyer