Letter to the Editor: Urging Preservation of Historic Buildings

(Editor’s Note: Selected text in bold by the author.)

Submitted by Mary K. Elloian 

Bedford needs to adopt rules to safeguard its historic properties as irreplaceable history as well as antiquities that will garner visitors from across the globe who are interested in American History.

Over the years Bedford has been losing much of its housing stock and outbuildings to development. Much of it because of lack of community engagement, and the rest because Bedford does not have the rules in place to safeguard its treasures.

One example is developers wanting to purchase 229 Old Billerica Road a historic property built circa 1671 to gain access to 251A & F Old Billerica Road in order to put a housing development in this historic area. Not only will such a development detract from the Historic nature of the site, it does not appear to comport with existing fire code regulations giving access to the proposed development.
Access here, means addressing a potential threat where fire or emergency apparatus is ever needed to protect life and property of those in, and adjacent to the area.

To remedy the “access” issue, the developer has proposed purchasing the adjacent property at 229 Old Billerica Road to gain access to the property at 251A & F Old Billerica Road they wish to develop with 16 homes. However, many in the community are unaware that the adjacent property developers want for access: 229 Old Billerica Road, was built circa 1671 at the time of the Colonists, and was standing at the time of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, and the American Revolution in 1776.

This is why I urged the Town Select Board to ‘Exercise the Town’s Right of First Refusal’ to put the much needed Bedford History Museum and Welcome Center in this historical area of 251A & F Old Billerica Road – utilizing existing buildings with ample space – while obtaining state and federal funding to help do so.

Yet that proposal was not debated for the public or put up for vote to the public despite my repeated requests to the Select Board to do so.

However, be assured the very same colonists who fought taxation without representation – likely lived in this house, and their descendants likely built it, and circumscribed the boundaries of the property. That is something no board member can deny.

This property at 229 Old Billerica Road is a historic relic of the past, and should not be tampered with – especially when many of the townspeople opposed the development of 251A & F. We know that development of 251A is not suitable to development – due to a number of issues, and especially its non-compliance with state and local fire access codes and insurance regulations.

So Bedford, if you want to safeguard the past for the future – get involved. Contact the Select Board. They are there to represent the “will” of the voters – not that of developers. Here’s the link: https://www.bedfordma.gov/select-board

Tell them what you think, and let them know you are opposed to putting an access road through a historic site such as 229 Old Billerica Road is not something that should be allowed.  Also tell them you want them to put an item on the agenda for the upcoming Special Town Meeting – to help safeguard Bedford antiquities for future generations.

Tell them – it’s your town – get involved. Antiquities don’t preserve themselves for future generations, unless they are protected by the stewards of the present.

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Karl Winkler
June 16, 2021 7:39 am

Thank you I spoke up at the meeting. I am truly disappointed by the boards short sightedness. Yes the big $$$ of a new fire station is a financial unknown. But the cost to the town buying the property and the town selling the house that is there would recoup part of the sale price. This would limit the impact to schools and traffic. Very disappointed with their decision. We deserve better.

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