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Residents Say 'Leave It' to Leavitt On Pheeny's Island Park [POLL]

Norton residents express opposition to adventure camp at public hearing Monday night.

Over 100 people turned out for the Pheeny’s Island public hearing Monday night, many of them voicing their strong opinions against the proposed adventure park.

Currently the island is for sale by a private owner.

“Be aware, this is a private land owner, as we all potentially are,” said Conservation Commission member Julian Kadish. “And there are a lot of rules about what people can’t do with their land, but in general we’re allowed freedom beyond that to do what we want with the land. So you have to look at both sides of this issue.”

Chris Yarworth of Yarworth Engineering presented the project, describing it as an “environmentally sensitive course.” The goal is to use the trees for rope bridges, ziplines and other challenges.

The commercial aspects are to be run from Mansfield, across the street from Comcast Center. John boats will ferry patrons to a dock on the west side of the island where they will not infringe on the wetlands. Most of the action will take place on that side as well, so to comply with the Wetlands Protection Act and shelter the activity from residents to the east of the island.

Norton resident Lee Parham, who lives about 200 yards from the island, began a petition opposing the park and collected about 150 signatures so far. He cited concerns about the potential buyer,

“He drove it into foreclosure in less than 10 years,” Parham said.

The view and noise from patrons and the propane generator were other issues brought up during the hearing. Though Leavitt did not specify how many people would be on the island at one time, he said that 250 harnesses would be available.

"Sound carries on water," said Carol Zwicker. "We can hear the fisherman talking."

Yarworth said shrubbery on the east side of the island should block some of the noise and view of the course. He also noted that a quiet generator will likely be purchased and stored in a building.

“The purpose of this thing is its an immersion in nature, the people who are doing this course,” Leavitt said. “The whole idea is to bring them to a beautiful place where you’re not seeing any houses and you’re in nature. Just as Mr. Parham here doesn’t want to see us, we don’t want to look up and see any civilization. We want it to be green, so it works both ways.”

Perhaps the biggest concern expressed at the meeting was the environmental impact the park would have on the island and reservoir itself. While professional wetland scientist Scott Goddard saw no eagle nests on the island, residents claim they have seen one land in the trees on occasion.

“I’ve lived there for 26 and a half years and I have looked at that island every day with love and admiration,” said Brandt Henderson. “In Norton, Massachusetts I saw my first bald eagle and it will never land there again.

“Do we want to endanger this beautiful little piece of nature for an amusement park? I suggest, ladies and gentlemen, we do not.”

Selectman Robert Kimball noted that there are still quite a few measures to take before this proposal becomes more of a reality. It will have to go before Mansfield, the Norton Planning Board and Board of Health.

"We want that reservoir to be used for something," he said. "We're not saying you have to endorse the project. All we ask you to do is listen to what the project is all about and make your decision based on what you think is right."

Kimball also noted that if residents want to protect the island, the town must consider buying it. The most recent price is listed at $149,900.

As per usual, the Conservation Commission began their meeting in . However, the room could not accommodate all the people in attendance, so the meeting was moved to . While the next Conservation Commission meeting must begin in Town Hall, the hearing will resume once again at the library March 12 at a time to be announced.

sick of the selfishness February 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Come on people. That island is plenty far enough away. Another case of "not in my back yard". We need the business. Get over it.
sick of the selfishness February 14, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Agreed. Same people who complain about cuts in services.
Denise L. Giblin February 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Hearing the fisherman talking? What a crime. No wonder Norton cannot seem to make any progress in the future.
eagle eye February 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I'm pretty sure the bald eagles will still land on the trees. Give me a break !! That island should be used for something instead of a drinking spot for the grove ne'ar do wells.
Norton Track Team February 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM
A great idea and I think will bring many "positives" to Norton.
Catherine Webber February 15, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I think it is a great idea. It is something constructive for local young people to do. From what I've experienced the Resevoir isn't exactly quiet most of the year, between boaters, fishermen, fireworks and those that sneak over to the island for parties and camp outs. I'm all for it. I read somewhere that somone said it wasn't a place for recreation but that is what it was once upon a time and I would love to see it get back to that.
concerned about our town February 15, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Everyone of you needs to know the entire story, so why not contact those of us who attended this meeting before you putting your mouth in gear while your brain is still in park.
Kelly A. Mello (Editor) February 15, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I will be meeting with Mr. Leavitt one-on-one Thursday. If you have any questions you'd like me to ask him, feel free to post here or email me at Kelly.Mello@Patch.com.
Norton Strong February 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I did attend the meeting and I think it's a great idea. The wants of a few (disgruntled Grove residents) do NOT outweigh the needs of the many. Stop thinking only of yourselves. The land needs to be used for something for the greater good.
Michael McKenney February 18, 2012 at 02:09 AM
I'm glad to see a majority of Norton residents see the good in this project. The Norton Reservoir is for ALL Norton residents, not just the few that live around it's perimeter. Norton is known of it's NIMBY's, just remember LEGO world that wanted to go where the TPC Golf Course is now. People complain about EVERYTHING in this town. You can't even fish or drive a boat on the reservoir without some resident calling and complaining about it. What benefits the many should always out weigh the concerns of the few. Let's hope the Selectmen has the courage to stand up to the few negative residents who want to keep the waterfront all to themselves.
John February 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM
When you have the possibility of 250 people on any given day being "ferried" by Jon boats I'd be a pretty pissed off Res. landowner too.
Michael McKenney February 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
This is why Norton has no substantial commercial business to speak of. We wonder why other towns get the big commercial development, and businesses. Norton has a long history of being anti business. To give just one example, I remember when Norton fought McDonald's when they wanted to put up their Golden Arches sign, people complained about that! Just look to our North to the Town of Mansfield, the town that Norton could have been had Norton's people and leaders been forward thinking and open to business. Mansfield has a great infrastructure, all it's roads have sidewalks, plenty of traffic lights to drive safely on it's roads, great schools, and plenty of things to do. In Norton, unless you want a pizza or a coffee, you have to go elsewhere for anything else. This will only continue as long as Norton has the NIMBY attitude. We will always be the town with limited services, limited schools, bad roads, and a crumbling infrastructure. Let's support this project, it sounds like fun, something that's in short supply in Norton.
carol e. zwicker February 22, 2012 at 04:50 PM
175 yards is not far enough away. I already clean up from boaters cutting up the weeds, throwing trash from the boats and hear fishermen talking to each other while fishing and it sounds like its right in my yard.
carol e. zwicker February 22, 2012 at 04:51 PM
hearing fishermen talking to each other is not a problem but try multiplying that sound by 150 or people, then comment
Mark McKay November 02, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Sorry but they won't. They're notoriously skittish and won't return if disturbed. Please do some research on the subject.

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