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Conservation Restriction

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Conservation for kids and community—for centuries to come.

The Future

Hale’s century-long commitment to preserving land, protecting nature, and building community has never been stronger. Our work has impacted millions of lives and continues to be rooted in the belief that nature, education, and recreation inspire us to learn, empower us to lead, and challenge us all to create a world in which people, place, and purpose are united. It’s with that in mind that we look to the future.

Hale may be a small nonprofit, but our community is large. It includes residents of Dover and Westwood, as well as friends and neighbors from surrounding cities and towns. Our longstanding ties to Boston’s people and institutions run deep, and our programs serve tens of thousands of people every year.

Everyone in this larger community deserves a Hale education, and we’ll ensure they get one by preserving our land, expanding our programs, improving our facilities, and making outdoor learning accessible to all. Achieving this goal will require immense time, effort, and support. To realize Hale’s full potential, we must leverage all of our resources.

The Land

Hale’s historic property is a resource we believe should be available to all. Our 1,000+ acres of forests, ponds, and meadows support learning, reflection, discovery, and wellness. Cities and towns benefit from open spaces such as Hale—surrounding property values tend to be higher as a result of the cleaner air and water they produce, opportunities for passive recreation they provide, and natural beauty and health benefits they offer.

While Hale’s land is in many ways priceless, its value is not incalculable, and people are often surprised to learn that it is not protected from development. In the 1950s, our Board of Directors was forced to consider selling parcels to sustain the organization. Today, our board is pursuing ways to fund the achievement of Hale’s long-term vision and mission.

Our board intends to do so by unlocking the value of Hale’s land.

The Plan

Hale is committed to reimagining learning and making it available to the communities we serve. To do this, Hale needs funding—tens of millions of dollars of it. Much of it will come by way of private philanthropy, but a sizable portion of it must be realized through our most valuable asset: our land.

Hale’s Board of Directors could simply subdivide and sell parcels to private buyers, but would strongly prefer an alternative solution that allows Hale’s current property to remain intact. In the spirit of being a good neighbor and protecting nature, it presented the Towns of Dover and Westwood with an opportunity to place a conservation restriction (CR) on the property.

Doing so would be the first step in permanently protecting more than 1,000 acres in what could be the region’s largest conservation project in many years. If Dover and Westwood seize this opportunity:

  1. Each town’s select board will bring Hale’s proposed CR to referendum in 2022
  2. Residents will vote on whether to pay a steeply discounted sum (the “conservation value” of the land, as established by each town’s CR Task Force) to invest in permanently protecting it
  3. Funds from the overrides will lay the groundwork for an endowment that, combined with private philanthropy, will sustain Hale and enable it to expand programs that serve our children and communities

Without the towns’ support, Hale’s Board of Directors will have no other option than to consider selling land (at market value) to meet the organization’s optimal need.

Take Action

Act now if you’d like to see the towns of Dover and Westwood seize this opportunity to invest in a conservation restriction, preserve Hale’s land, and sustain educational and recreational programs for generations to come.

  • Share this page on social media to raise awareness among friends and neighbors.
  • Write letters to your town’s select persons—you’ll find Dover’s here and Westwood’s here.
  • Make a gift to Hale’s annual fund.

Submit a question or suggestion below, and thank you in advance for your support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hale in financial trouble?

Our camps boast wait lists, we’re increasing the number of school and professional programs we deliver, and our community of donors continues to sustain our annual fund. The organization’s near-term future is not in question, but for the long-term protection of the land, we need our community to give generously to Hale and support our work in obtaining a CR.

Is Hale selling land?

We’ve heard the rumblings, too. Elements of some rumors are true, but others are the result of information that was misunderstood, misinterpreted, or both. To achieve a greater good for the community, our Board of Directors may be forced to sell a portion of Hale’s land.

Most of Hale’s property is unprotected, and for several decades, our Board explored ways to prevent its development by placing it under a CR. Doing so would provide the towns and donors with an opportunity to invest in the protection of Hale’s acreage and ensure the organization’s long-term financial viability. Put simply, private philanthropy and town support would unlock the value of Hale’s land and result in a CR that protects the property in perpetuity. Hale would maintain the property as a natural resource even as it continues to deliver world-class educational and recreational programs.

Absent sufficient municipal support, our Board has decided selling a portion of Hale’s land is likely the best alternative. While we do not want to sell land in either town, it may be necessary in order to conserve the remaining 1,000+ acres and to achieve Hale’s long-term goals.

Whether by way of municipal support or land sale, Hale is committed to permanently protecting as much of this precious space as possible.

Why now?

After relying on program revenue to fund operations for more than 100 years, Hale must tap into the value of its land to 1) meet growing demand, 2) cover increasing expenses, and 3) provide equitable access to its facilities and services. Without a CR, Hale’s Board of Directors will be forced to consider selling land to accomplish these goals and carry out its mission.

What is a conservation restriction?

As defined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a conservation restriction (also known as a conservation easement) is a legally enforceable agreement whose purpose is to ensure permanent protection of specific conservation values while permitting limited land uses consistent with the protection of said conservation values. Conservation restrictions protect a wide variety of conservation values, including open space, forestry, water supply, viewscapes, and wildlife habitat. Conservation restrictions undergo a rigorous review process and require approval by the town select board, town conservation commission, and the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Details about conservation restrictions and the state’s model conservation restriction can be found here.

Why does Hale charge for parking?

Hale chose to open its private property to the general public in the 1960s for passive recreation, and until 2020, covered all of the expenses related to its use (such as trail maintenance, tree work, and snow removal). Parking fees are now necessary to defray a small portion of ever-increasing operating costs.

I'd like more information. Who should I contact?

We’d be happy to discuss Hale’s efforts with you. Please submit your information above so a staff member can respond to any questions, concerns, and ideas you may have.

How can I help?

We’d love for you to join the Hale community in preserving our land, and there are several ways you can help: Voice your support for a conservation restriction by writing letters to members of Westwood’s and Dover’s select boards, make your gift to Hale’s annual fund, and spread the word in your community.

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