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The Weisblatt Property was acquired in 1998. This is a property of hilly topography, marked by numerous rock outcroppings, rich woodlands, and prolific vernal pools.
Thank you for your interest in the Poor Farm conservation lands. Information will be available soon.
Frequently Asked Questions about Piper Farm:
Q: What is Piper Farm and where is it?
Q: Why should I want to preserve Piper Farm?
Left in its natural state Piper Farm provides three types of services to the Town:
Recreation: Piper Farm is a core property in a network of trails that traces a path from the Sudbury River to the Town Center, from Route 27 near the Sudbury River to the Frost Farm Trails Conservation Land north of Route 117, and from the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge to the Assabet Wildlife Refuge. As conservation land these trails will be open to the public for walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, wildlife watching, etc. The fields and clearings will be available for picnicking and light camping.
As a link of the Conservation Commission’s Sudbury Natural Areas Project residents will eventually be able to walk, jog, or cross-country ski the entire length of Town through a continuous green corridor.
Education: Wondering through the varied landscape you and your family can explore the human and natural history of Sudbury. Old fields, orchards, and stone walls tell stories of life in New England 150 years ago. Artifacts from colonial times and Native America are buried in the land. The interplay of plants and animals in the woodlands and fields makes each visit to the property an opportunity to see and discover new aspects of Sudbury’s natural heritage.
The complex of lands that surround Piper Farm form a “Science Museum” outdoors in your own backyard.
Quality of Life:
Development — civilizing the land — is chipping away at that charm. Fragmentation of wildlife habitat is the danger.
As a wildlife corridor Piper Farm allows Sudbury’s wildlife populations to shift to the rhythms of the seasons in their searches for food, water, shelter, and breeding space. For example, vernal pools on the property provide breeding habitat for amphibians in the spring, much needed water for forest mammals, birds, and reptiles in the summer, and food for migrating animals in the fall. The woodlands offer roosting sites for Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks while the fields and old stone walls offer up a bounty of field mice and other rodents for them to feast on.
Yet Piper Farm is much more than a simple travel corridor through which wildlife quickly shuffle back and forth across town. It is an essential “genetic highway” that allows subpopulations of species spread across the region to mix genetically and thereby maintain a robust gene pool. For example, Eastern Cottontails from the Sudbury River area and others from North Sudbury and beyond the Assabet River area will slowly drift through this landscape, staying for several seasons or even years. They will feed, mature, and breed and in this way avoid the dangers of inbreeding — an serious threat to isolated populations of wildlife. This is why so much undisturbed space is important.
How much would this purchase cost?
The SUDBURY FOUNDATION considered this open space purchase so essential to preserving the Sudbury’s character that it has offered $500,000 toward the purchase. Thus the final cost to us is $2.5 million, which would add about $35 per year to the average property tax bill in Sudbury — which is really $25 per year after federal income tax deductions.
An independent appraisal conducted for the Town arrived at a market price of $4.4 million for the property — $1.4 million more than the price set by the Piper family for Town purchase!
Developers, hoping to build about a dozen super-homes on the site, have already offered to purchase the property for amounts substantially greater than the $3 million that the Piper family is requesting. And the bidding continues. Some developers claim that the property is worth about $6 million for development purposes.
Do the math yourself: there are somewhere between ten and sixteen buildable lots on the Piper Farm property. Building lots in Sudbury are presently $425,000 to $450,000 and rising. Thus, the bulk development value for Piper Farm is between $4.25 million and $7.2 million.
By comparison, lots on the abutting Sears property sold for $375,000 apiece almost 2 years ago. That developer claims those same lots today would sell for over $425,0000 apiece. Similarly, the nearby Hill property, with 13 buildable lots, is being sold for $5.2 million.
Anyway you look at $3 million for Piper Farm is a bargain. But the price of preserving Piper Farm will only continue to rise if we do not act now.
Why, then, is the Piper family offering the property to the Town for only $3 million? Civic pride is certainly a part, but there is also a more personal element: the family was horrified by the scale of scope of development on the neighboring Sears property and do not want to see the land they have owned for a century similarly devastated. Here, preserving a family trust — their land — and a generous civic gesture go hand in hand.
One of the saving graces of purchasing land for conservation is that there are no annual operating costs — no buildings to heat, no staff to pay, and playing fields to repair, mow, seed, etc. The purchase price is the full cost. Trails and fields on conservation land are maintained by local volunteers.
Preserving natural areas such as Piper Farm is an unequalled investment in Sudbury’s future. It ensures that 10, 20, and 50 years from now Sudbury’s residents — perhaps including your children and their children — will still be able to marvel at the sight of a family of broad-wing hawks soaring above field as the parents teach their young how to hunt, have a chance to hear the ethereal trill of American toads singing for mates, and enjoy a surprise encounter with fox trotting down a hiking trail.
Couldn’t we allow “limited development” on a portion of Piper Farm to reduce the pruchase price for preserving the rest?
Unfortunately, Piper Farm does not allow for this kind of creative solution. The configuration of the property, its topography, and its geology mean that the construction of even 2 or 3 homes on the site would produce so much clearing and disturbance at the center of the landscape that it would effectively destroy the property’s ecological and wildlife values. Moreover, the presumed saving of $750,000 by selling these lots for development would produce a savings of only about $7 per year on the average tax bill.
In sum, limited development would ruin the property and save you less than the cost of one night alone at the movies.
The King Philip Woods Conservation Land was purchased jointly by the State Department of Environmental Management and the Town of Sudbury in 1987. The 81 acre conservation land consists of two parcels. On the easterly side of Water Row is 57 acres of Sudbury River floodplain with over 1,300 feet of frontage on the Sudbury River. With the exception of a scenic viewing area, this portion of the parcel is not open to the public to ensure preservation of the wildlife habitat value of the floodplain. The westerly side of Water Row is mostly a forested upland with diverse topography, trails, a small pond and bog, and several interesting historic foundations.
The abandoned Old Berlin Road, historically an important stagecoach road from Boston to Lancaster, is now a dirt road running through the upland side of the parcel from Water Row to Old Sudbury Road. A short distance in from Water Row, on the right of Old Berlin Road, you will see the foundation of an old tavern. This was a 2’/2 story structure about the size of the Wayside Inn. It was here that the stagecoaches stopped to renew both man and beast before continuing their journey. It became a popular spot in the middle of the 18th century for certain unsavory “Gentlemen of the Road” namely highwaymen and horse thieves who were led by the notorious Captain Lightfoot. The Captain and his friends had plied their trade on the highways of England too successfully and for reasons of personal health were forced to leave their native land. Subsequently it was noticed that several travelers who left by stage for Lancaster failed to arrive at their destination, and warnings were posted advising travelers of the hazards of stage travel. With suspicion leveled at it, the tavern became unpopular as a stopping place and gradually fell into disrepair. A later owner investigating a stone in the basement unearthed 13 skeletons – apparently the unfortunate travelers who never made it to Lancaster. Some have said that when the moon is over the river and the mist creeps in, if you listen carefully you can hear the stagecoach rolling along and who knows, maybe even a hoarse voice calling “stand and deliver”.
On April 21, 1676, Sudbury, Lancaster, and Marlborough were burned to the ground by marauding Native Americans under the command of the Wampanoag Chief, King Philip. A feeling of impending crisis sent the Sudbury settlers to their six garrison houses. By 6:00 a.m. that fateful day, a force of 1,000 to 1,500 Native Americans under King Philip infiltrated the woods, burned the isolated farmhouses, and attacked the garrisons. None of the garrison houses remain today, but the foundation of the Haynes Garrison House can be seen on the adjacent town-owned parcel. It was to the Haynes Garrison House that the two Concord survivors of the Native American massacre at the Four-Arch Bridge (at the Sudbury River in Wayland) fled for refuge. Here, the defenders showed such courage and fierce determination to defend their homes, that by 1:00 p.m., the Native Americans gave up and faded into the woods. Perhaps the increasing frequency of musket fire from the direction of Green Hill drew the discouraged Native Americans over Goodman Hill to the main engagement. There, King Philip and his warriors finally overwhelmed the colonials that afternoon, but failed to consolidate their victory and began the slow descent into final defeat of the Native American peoples in southern New England.
The Nobscot Conservation Land is 118 acres of woodland, meadows, historic sites, and an abandoned apple orchard. It is located south of Route 20, with access and parking on Brimstone Lane. The original 78 acres of the parcel was purchased in 1974 for passive recreational activities, with a gift by Alderice Maiilett in 1985 of an additional 40 acres. The area is ideally suited for hiking, bird watching, picnicking, nature study, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.
The Nobscot Scout Reservation which borders this parcel is private property and is not part of the Nobscot Conservation Land. Please do not access any of the Scout Reservation property as this will be considered trespassing.
From the parking lot on Brimstone Lane, conservation land is on both sides of the road. On the downhill side (to the west) is a 58 acre tract which includes considerable wetland. A wide variety of birds and wildflowers can be observed here. This tract includes the 40 acre gift which contains the famous dam built in the 1930ΓÇÖs by Henry Ford to provide fire water to the Wayside Inn. It is now known as “FordΓÇÖs Folly” due to its inability to hold large quantities of water. The structure is over 900 feet long and thirty feet high. Please use caution when crossing the top of the dam or use an alternate trail.
On the uphill side of the parking lot is Nobscot Hill, the highest point in Sudbury, which affords some fine views on a clear day. The path up the embankment arrives at the abandoned apple orchard. Mt Wachusett and Mt Monadnock can be seen from the upper orchard. Continuing along the main trail, Martha Mary Chapel and the Carding Mill Pond are clearly visible. Looking to the northeast from the orchard, the spires in the Town Center and Round Hill can be seen. On the very top of Nobscot Hill, on private property, is an array of micro-wave antennas.