Skip to main content

Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Title work continues regarding ownership of land at end of Overdale Parkway Town records show land is likely still under control of Park Commission and cannot be gifted by a private resident

The development proposed at the end of Overdale Parkway would include paving what is now an unpaved path (a portion shown here) that leads to the entrance to the Parklands and is delineated by a sign and metal gate installed by the Park Commission decades ago. Credit: Theresa Knapp

ment, approximately 31.5 acres of land, with a frontage on Overdale Parkway, and adjoining the Old Salt Box and other land already under the jurisdiction of the Park Department. 
• June 24, 1985: Special Town Meeting was asked to accept the “gift” from the Larkins. 
– First draft of the 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…” 
– However, the motion had been ruled “out of order” by the moderator on Town Meeting floor
– Special Town Meeting minutes were revised to reflect: 
“Article 33. Ruled out of order by Moderator, as Park Commissioner Richard Vitale notified him by letter and in person at this meeting that the Commissioners unanimously voted not to release the land. Town Counsel’s ruling is as follows...Article 33 of the Annual Town Warrant inserted at the request of private citizens seeks to have the Town petition the legislature to release a section of parklands roadway for approximately 800 feet. According to the legal description attached to the warrant the parcel would be approximately 800 feet long and 50 feet wide and it appears to be intended to lay this out as a public way in order to give frontage and access to certain lots of land which now have no frontage on a public way. 
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 79, Section 5, states “No portion of land taken for or held as park by a Town under Chapter 45 shall be taken or used for a public way, canal, railroad or railway, or for altering or widening the same, WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE BOARD HAVING CONTROL OF THE PUBLIC PARKS OF SUCH TOWN. [author emphasis]
Hence before taking action on this article it must be determined whether or not such consent to the release of [this] parcel of land has been given by the Hopedale Board of Park Commissioners and such information must be on file with the Moderator so it can be made a part of the vote and the record regarding this Article.
Motion of Attorney Antonellis to Pass Over was voted by unanimous voice vote.”
At the selectmen’s meeting in February, Don Howes, chairman of the current Park Commission said the unpaved accessway is under his commission’s jurisdiction. 
The issue was on the agenda for the Board of Selectmen’s April 12 meeting but it was postponed because they have not received the title search results. Selectmen are expected to discuss it at their next meeting on May 10. By Theresa Knapp 
Title work continues on who controls the land at the end of Overdale Parkway at the entrance to the Hopedale Parklands. 
The ownership issue came to light again earlier this year when developer Richard Lima submitted plans to pave an additional 703 feet of roadway, toward the Parklands and past the town’s metal gate, in order to build four houses on the easterly (right-hand) side of the road. A second unnamed developer has proposed six houses on the westerly (left-hand) side of the roadway. 
The development 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…).” 
There is a question related to the authority of the Larkins to gift the land in question. 
After a lengthy conversation at the February meeting, the parties -- the Board of Selectmen; Katherine Klein of KP Law, Hopedale’s town counsel; Tom McLaughlin, attorney for Lima, developer of easterly property; and Stephan Rodolakis, attorney for unnamed developer of westerly property -- agreed that more title work was necessary. 
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.
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. 
Town records show: 
• August 14, 1917: A letter from the “Town Solicitor” to then Park Commissioner Frank J. Dutcher regarding [generally] roads under the Park Commission’s control: 
– “A highway cannot be laid out or constructed over a park dedicated to the use of the public, except in the way provided by statute...This has not been done and the road is not a highway but still a part of the park...It would also seem to me desirable to have these streets entirely in control of the park commissioners, so that they could be closed, temporarily or permanently, and their use be subjected to such regulations as may be advantageous in the use of the park. 
• December 31, 1945: Annual Report of the Park Commissioners regarding the purchase of the land in question at the end of Overdale Parkway: 
– “During the year, the Town purchased, for the use of the Park Depart