By Theresa Knapp
Another development is proposed at the end of Overdale Parkway toward the entrance to the Hopedale Parklands. Previous developments proposed in 1959, 1985 and 1999 were denied because the unpaved portion at the end of Overdale Parkway is reportedly under the jurisdiction of the Park Commission.
Overdale Parkway has historically been used by the general public to access the Parklands as has been the custom since the road was built in 1916 (after gathering land from 1899 to 1916 to create the park, according to legal documents). Today, the Parklands are used for hiking, winter sports, mountain biking, dog walking, educational groups, youth organizations, and by local school athletics.
Overdale Parkway is a private dead-end road that has not been accepted as a public road though the town does maintain the 1,500 foot portion it first paved in 1955. Decades ago, the Park Commission installed a metal security gate to block vehicle access to the path to the Parklands.
The proposed development is planned for the northerly side of the security gate.
This development proposes to pave an additional 703 feet of roadway past the town’s metal gate, building four houses on the easterly (right-hand) side (by developer Richard Lima) of the unpaved access road and six houses on the westerly (left-hand) side (by second unnamed developer) of the roadway. In total, 10 single-family homes.
The plan was discussed at a Feb. 22 meeting of the Board of Selectmen as part of a conversation to “Accept gift from Virginia A. Larkin and Richard D. Larkin (a 30-foot-wide paved road into the Hopedale Parklands from the present end of the pavement on Overdale Parkway…).”
A 90-minute discussion included the Board of Selectmen; Katherine Klein of KP Law, Hopedale’s town counsel; Tom McLaughlin, attorney for Lima, developer of easterly property; Stephan Rodolakis, attorney for unnamed developer of westerly property; and the public.
Residents said the unpaved portion of the road is under the jurisdiction of the Park Commission, and referenced a 2003 Land Court “Black Brook” decision that denied access to the land in question because the unpaved portion of the road is not a public way. They also noted a 1985 engineering plan that designates the unpaved portion as “Hopedale Parklands.”
A 1985 Special Town Meeting was also referenced at which the gift of land from the Larkins was allegedly accepted by the town. The relevant portions of the June 24, 1985 special town meeting minutes read, in part:
[Special Town Meeting] Voted that the Town accept as a gift from Virginia A. and Richard D. Larkin, a 30 foot wide paved access road into the Hopedale Parklands from the present end of the pavement on Overdale Parkway approximately 703 feet, more or less, northerly into the parklands, all as shown on the plan attached to this warrant entitled, “PLAN OF LAND IN HOPEDALE, MASS. showing paved road donated to the Town of Hopedale under Article 7 of the June 24, 1985 Special Town Meeting by Virginia A. and Richard D. Larkin and the limits of the right of way granted to the Owners of Lots 1,2,3,4, on the Easterly side and the owners of Lots 1,2,3,4,5,6 on the Westerly side and the area rededicated to park use. [?] 30 feet to an inch. Date June 1, 1985, Guerriera & Halnon, Inc., Engineering and Land Surveying, 326 West Street, Milford, Mass.”
Special Town Meeting then went on to accept the gift and the town agreed to maintain Overland Parkway.
Tom McLaughlin, attorney for Lima, contends the town never accepted the 1985 gift and asked selectmen to do that now, then the developer could begin the approval process with the Planning Board. Lima argued that an assessor’s map presented to selectmen “demonstrates that Overlay Parkway goes 703 feet past that gate.”
Don Howes, chairman of the current Park Commission, asked for additional time to look into the issue, and said the unpaved accessway is under his commission’s jurisdiction. “I believe that it’s a piece of the Parklands, that has been my understanding for the nearly six years that I’ve been on the Commission.”
Town Counsel Klein said additional title work should be done. Selectman Lou Arcudi said the town “should do its due diligence and do it quickly.”
The matter was put on hold until late March to accommodate further title work. As of press time, no results had been made public.