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Letter to the Editor: Preserve the Endicott Estate, Dedham's Common Backyard

Group says beyond the loss of invaluable park land, the development of the grounds of the Endicott Estate threatens to take away the town's history.

 

The following is a letter to the editor:

Recently a group of neighbors and other concerned Dedham citizens formed a group to preserve the grounds of the Endicott Estate as open space, and to develop a consensus site for a senior center facility.

Dedham is increasingly becoming a congested, densely developed place.  Four story apartment buildings are now not uncommon. Streets like East Street which once had no traffic lights, now have four. Developers frequently take large lots on roads like Walnut Street and shoehorn three and four houses onto parcels that formerly bore just one home. Statistics confirm our daily experiences that Dedham has become largely built-out.  According to the Town's Master Plan, Dedham lost 280 acres of open land to development from 1971 to 1999.  Of the thirteen towns that make up our corner of Norfolk County, Dedham has the second least amount of open land. 

While Dedham is not without open space, most of it, like Wilson Mountain, Fowl Meadow and Cutler Park, is located at the periphery of the town. Where open space is most likely to be used and enjoyed, within the town's population centers, open space is rare. This is so in the Endicott/Oakdale neighborhood, which is one of the town's two most populous census tracts. For those who live in the Endicott/Oakdale neighborhood, the grounds of the Endicott Estate serve as the principal park land. As park land is rare in Endicott/Oakdale, it is greatly valued.

Why do we value the grounds of the Endicott Estate so greatly? It is where neighborhood parents walk their babies in strollers, take their children sledding and teach them how to ride bicycles. It is where neighborhood boys and girls play their pick-up athletic games, teenagers play Frisbee, and adults go for walks. The estate is not just treasured open space for those living around the estate. It is a jewel for the entire town. It is where our high school seniors take their prom pictures, and school children have their picnics. It is where we gather for outdoor community events like the James Joyce Ramble and summer concerts. It is where our young people have their wedding receptions and our retired citizen's garden. In short, the Endicott Estate is the town's common back yard.

Beyond the loss of invaluable park land, the development of the grounds of the Endicott Estate threatens to take away the town's history. In 2002, the Endicott Estate was listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Not unlike the Newport Mansions, the Endicott Estate is a visual representation of an historic period gone by. The spacious grounds represent that history every bit as the mansion itself. Indeed, it is the spacious grounds that give the Endicott Estate a sense of place, its sense of grandeur. If we build over those grounds with construction and pavement, we take away the town's history.

Thus, it is with a great deal of alarm that we confront a private foundation's plan to develop a substantial portion of the Estate for a senior center. The foundation proposes to site an 8,600 square foot building with a footprint roughly equal to that of the current mansion on the east end of the grounds. In other words, the foundation proposes to put a second mansion on the estate. In addition, the foundation's proposal will necessarily have to asphalt an additional area for parking; and erect a substitute storage structure to replace the existing barn. This construction would come on the heels of a previous significant loss of the estate's lawns to a widening of its driveways into full roads, and the blacktopping of a parking lot. 

For these reasons, we oppose the development of any new large buildings on the estate. While we support a new facility for our senior center programs, we need not forfeit one great town asset to obtain another.  

Maurice Burns                          Robert Frasca

Ellen Burns                              Andy Lawlor

Lindsay Barich                          Roberta Lawlor

Cindy Barich                             Bob Schortmann

Fred Civian                               Kathy Schortmann

Jim Fay                                    Cherylann Sheehan

Susan Fay                                Dave Sheehan

Joe Findlen                               Cathy Lawton

Mark Lawton

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