Sunday, July 1, 2012

What’s Next for Fyfeshire?

At Bolton Town Meeting on May 7, the town unanimously passed a resolution appropriating $250,000 to lower the dam crest at Fyfeshire. This solution would keep the dam and ponds in place while lessening the danger of a sudden catastrophic release of flood water.  (Learn more about this solution from our Feb. 14 posting.) 

Since then, the town has received an extension from the Office of Dam Safety until June 2013 to bring the dam into compliance.  A consultant recently completed a quarterly inspection and did not find the dam in any worse condition since the last inspection.  The Conservation Commission is in the process of putting together a Request for Proposal for the work on the dam.

Our group will continue to monitor progress and help out where we can add value.  We plan to continue to hold events to raise money for landscaping around the dam and for maintenance of Fyfeshire Conservation area.  With your help, we hope to keep Fyfeshire a beautiful natural area for all to enjoy.  

Your tax-deductible donations can be made to:
Friends of the Oxbow (on check, please write Fyfeshire on the memo line)
P.O. Box 646
Bolton, MA 01740

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fyfeshire article passed unanimously at Bolton Town Meeting

At Bolton Town Meeting last night, article #14 appropriating $250,000 to lower the dam crest passed unanimously.  Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting (a long one--it continues into tonight) and said "Aye" to Fyfeshire. 


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bolton Town Meeting: YES to Fyfeshire Article #14

At the May 7 Annual Town Meeting, the town will be asked to vote on appropriating $250,000 to fund the lowering of the crest of the dam at Fyfeshire Conservation Area.  We, the Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds, are asking you to vote YES to this article.

As you may know, in 2009 the state Office of Dam Safety declared the Fyfeshire lower dam unsafe and has required the Town of Bolton to repair or remove it. After much debate—repair or remove—a third alter­native has presented itself: to lower the crest of the dam by about three feet. This alternative has four benefits:
  • It makes the dam safer in a large storm by eliminating the possi­bility of raised water levels building up pressure behind the dam
  • It keeps the ponds intact
  • It removes the dam from state jurisdiction 
  • It is the lowest cost alternative
The Board of Selectmen has unanimously recommended this solution, and both candidates for selectman, Connie Benjamin and Larry Delaney support this solution.  For more on this proposal, see our blog posting New alternative would keep the Fyfeshire Ponds intact.

What other choice do we have?  To do nothing risks having the state begin slapping fines on the town to the tune of $500 a day.  To date, the state has worked with the town on this issue and has granted extensions to the deadline for fixing the problem because it believes Bolton has made a good faith effort towards a solution.  That may change if this article is voted down at town meeting.

It should be noted that Helen Plummer donated Fyfeshire Conservation Area to the town free and clear in 1969, and for 40 years the town has enjoyed the use of the area without major expenses.  A few grants have helped to build the bridge over the small pond and make repairs to the dam.  The trail maintenance has been done by volunteers.

Please support our efforts to keep Fyfeshire Conservation Area a beautiful recreation spot for all to enjoy. Your tax-deductible donations to defray costs of lowering the dam and maintain the trails in Fyfeshire can be made to:
Friends of the Oxbow (on check, please write Fyfeshire on the memo line)
P.O. Box 646
Bolton, MA 01740
Thanks !

Friday, May 4, 2012

History comes to life at Fyfeshire

On a cool but sunny Saturday afternoon, Fyfeshire's past came to life for a few hours as William and Josephine Fyfe, Helen Plummer, a farmer and his wife, an apprentice button maker, and others returned to Fyfeshire to tell their stories. The photos below give you an idea of what hikers experienced as they made their way along the trail. Many thanks to Ken Horton for sharing his photographs!

Josephine and William Fyfe IV (Rona and John Balco) welcome you to Living History Day at Fyfeshire Conservation Area on Wattaquadock Hill Rd.

A woman from 1870s Bolton (Edi Ablavsky) helps Roger Breeze and Debbie Horton plan their route.
A farmer (Richard Tripp) demonstrates his scything skills.

A plaque describes the button manufacturing mill that was located on the small pond.  This is one of three new plaques on display at Fyfeshire.
An apprentice at the button shop (Martha Remington) explains the process of button making in the 1870s.
Mr. and Mrs. Fyfe talk about their lives in agricultural Bolton. 

Never one to waste time, Mrs. Fyfe plies her needle as they talk.
Lovely backdrop to their conversation.
A pickerel frog (Ada Woolston) talks about wildlife at Fyfeshire and the dam repair project.
Showing off her spots.

The dam--notice the buckling wall on the right, with the large crack running through it.
John Bailey (Alex Ablavsky), a young man from Clinton in 1899.
John tells Roger Breeze about the terrible railroad accident he witnessed, in which Mr. Fyfe met his end.
Helen Plummer (Lee Galeski), the grandaughter of William and Josephine Fyfe, donated Fyfeshire Conservation Area to the town of Bolton in 1969.
Hikers sample corn bread, ginger snaps, and old-fashioned candies washed down with cider (not hard), lemonade and iced tea. The farmer is NOT aiming at Mr. Fyfe but at a nearby possum.
Josephine Fyfe shows off the possum the farmer bagged.
The farmer and his wife (Richard and Susan Tripp).
From left:  William Fyfe (John Balco), Helen Plummer (Lee Galeski), 1870s woman (Edi Ablavsky), Josephine Fyfe (Rona Balco), John Bailey (Alex Ablavsky), Frog (Ada Woolston), Farmer's wife (Susan Tripp), and Farmer (Richard Tripp)
Sawyer House held special hours to give visitors and chance to visit after their hike through Fyfeshire.
A special display dedicated to Fyfeshire.  On left is a portrait of William Fyfe IV (not John Balco, though it's hard to tell them apart) and to the right is a reproduction of the cabin at Fyfeshire that Helen Plummer painted.
Combs manufactured in Bolton in the late 1800s.

Debbie Horton, Mary Cuomo and Teresa Sauer rest their tired feet for a moment.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Consultant presents proposal to lower dam crest

This Saturday 1-3 p.m.: Fyfeshire Living History Day

Last Tuesday, the Conservation Commission hosted a presentation at Town Hall by Christopher Cullen, Engineering Consultant at Fuss and O’Neil, to discuss the proposal to lower the dam crest.  Cullen went through the relevant history of the project:  the state’s determination that the dam is unsafe and that the town needs to do something about it, the past proposals to remove or repair the dam, and the latest proposal to lower the crest of the dam. (For more about this proposal, see posting New alternative would keep the Fyfeshire Ponds intact.)

In addition to making the pond safer, Cullen pointed out that this latest proposal, called “partial dam removal,”

-         Is the least expensive alternative of the three
-         Removes the dam from state jurisdiction
-         Maintains normal pond water levels

The Bolton Board of Selectmen has voted unanimously in favor of this option. The town will vote on this proposal at Town Meeting on May 7—it is item #14 on the warrant.  (See posting Fyfeshire Dam to be discussed at Town Meeting)  The Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds supports this proposal and encourages all eligible Bolton residents to go to town meeting and vote "Yes" on #14.

Cullen’s Powerpoint presentation is not yet available on the town website--we will update this posting to link to it when it becomes available.  The meeting was recorded and you can view it at this link:   Conservation Commission meeting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Meeting re. Fyfeshire. Also: Living History Day coming up.

Don't forget to attend the meeting at Town Hall tonight re. the proposal to lower the crest of Fyfeshire Dam.

Also mark your calendar for Living History Day:  April 28 1-3 p.m.
Living history day April 28 1-3 p.m.

Getting Fyfeshire ready for Living History Day

A volunteer maintenance crew cleared trails on Saturday in preparation for Living History Day on April 28.  Here are a few photos documenting their work.  Many thanks to all four for working so hard to make hiking easier and more enjoyable for all.

From left: Leonid Ablavsky of Wattaquadock Hill Rd., Tatenda Mudeke (Ablavsky family friend visiting from Boston), Alex Ablavsky, and Rona Balco of Green Rd., Bolton clear a tree that had fallen into the small pond. 

Before:  This is the tree that had partially fallen into the small pond.

Leonid and Tatenda haul the tree out of the water.
The tree has to be trimmed and cut into smaller bits to move.
Alex hauls a log from the tree to the woodpile.
Rona wields the chain saw to cut the tree into smaller logs.
The cut trunk reveals a colony of ants.

After:  Here's the same view after the crew cleared the tree away.

Fyfeshire Dam to be discussed at Town Meeting: Article #14 on the warrant

 The town warrant listing all the items to be discussed at the upcoming town meeting on May 7 was sent to Bolton residents last week.  In case you missed it, here is Article #14:

Article #14: Fyfeshire Dam

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds the sum of $250,000 (Two hundred fifty thousand dollars), pursuant to any applicable statute, for the lowering of the Fyfeshire Dam, and to meet this appropriation, the sum of $247,402 (Two hundred forty seven thousand and four hundred two dollars) be transferred from the Assessor's Overlay Account, and the sum of $2,598 (Two thousand five hundred ninety eight dollars) be transferred from available funds, and further, that the Conservation Commission be authorized to file on behalf of Town of Bolton any and all applications deemed necessary for grants and/or reimbursements from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and/or any others in any way connected with the scope of this Article; and further, the Town of Bolton and the Conservation Commission be authorized to enter into all agreements and execute any and all instruments as may be necessary on behalf of Bolton to effect said lowering; or do or act relating thereto. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Consultant will present proposal to lower the dam

Tuesday, April 17
7:00 p.m.
Bolton Town Hall

As you are probably aware by now, the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety has determined that the Fyfeshire Dam (the lower dam) in the Fyfeshire Conservation Area has been determined by the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety to be a “Significant Hazard Dam in an Unsafe Condition.” There is a proposal on the table to lower the dam crest. We believe this will improve dam safety while keeping the ponds intact. The Bolton Conservation Commission invites anyone who is interested to attend a meeting this coming Tuesday, where Engineering Consultant Christopher Cullen, of Fuss and O’Neil, will present this new proposal.

Please come if you can. The Conservation Commission has submitted a warrant article for the Annual Town Meeting (May 7) to lower the dam crest of the lower dam in the Fyfeshire Conservation Area. That means (I think) the people of Bolton will be asked to vote on this proposal. Here is your chance to learn more and ask questions.

For a more detailed description of the proposal, see our posting New Alternative Would Keep Fyfeshire Ponds Intact.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Living history day at Fyfeshire

Mr. Fyfe, 18xx, gave Fyfeshire its name
Saturday, April 28 (Rain date Saturday, May 12)
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Fyfeshire Conservation Area
516 Wattaquadock Hill Road, Bolton

Take a stroll back through time and learn a bit of Bolton history.  Go back to Post Civil War Bolton and meet Mr. Fyfe, talk with his descendant Helen Plummer, who donated the area to the town in 1969, and learn about the button factory that stood near the small pond, all while enjoying a walk along the water’s edge on a (fingers crossed) lovely spring day. Finish off with an old fashioned  picnic in the park (bring your own blanket/basket). Light refreshments will be provided to complement your picnic basket.  Come in costume if you wish.

For a “total immersion” history experience, plan to drop in and see the corresponding collections at the Historical Society after your visit to Fyfeshire. They are holding special hours:

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Sawyer House
676 Main Street (Rt. 117), Bolton
Always wanted to work at Old Sturbridge Village? This is the next best thing. We could use a few volunteers to play the role of farmers and townspeople from the 1800s. (NHS students earn community service credit.) Call 968-365-6867 or send an email to
Sponsored by the Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds and supported by the Bolton Conservation and Historical Commissions 

P.S.  If the weather looks threatening on April 28, check this blog after 9:00 a.m. to see if the event will be held, or call 978-365-6867.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pond Day at the Flat Penny

Many thanks to everyone who showed their support for Fyfeshire Ponds by dining at the Flat  Penny in Berlin on Feb. 20th.  Business was brisk all day and everyone had a great meal with friends and family as they contributed toward solving the dam problem (pun intended!) at Fyfeshire Conservation Area in Bolton. To view the latest proposal, read our posting New alternative would keep the Fyfeshire Ponds intact

Congratulations to Bill Beauchaine who won the 50-50 raffle.  Bill graciously donated a large chunk of the winnings back to the cause.Thank you, Bill!

Many thanks to everyone at the Flat Penny for hosting the event and helping us to raise some money toward conserving Fyfeshire Ponds!

Photo Contest Winners Announced

As you may be aware, the Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds has been running a photo contest over the past few months. The entries were on display at the Flat Penny.  Here they are, for your consideration.
Fyfeshire Dam by Roger Breeze

Submitted by Elizabeth Curry

Submitted by Elizabeth Curry

Submitted by Elizabeth Curry

Submitted by Elizabeth Curry

Two otters (look carefully...) by Alex Ablavsky

Two otters by Alex Ablavsky

Fyfeshire Doe and Fawn by Susan Fly

Fyfeshire Fawn by Susan Fly

Fyfeshire Coyote by Susan Fly

Fyfeshire Doe and Fawn by Susan Fly

Fyfeshire Deer in the Headlights by Susan Fly

Tree with Sawdust from Carpenter Ants by Susan Fly

Cool Plant by Katelyn Mumford

Grass and Water by Margaret Mumford

Submitted by Kelsey Fly

Submitted by Kelsey Fly

Submitted by Kelsey Fly

And the winners are....

in the adult category:  

Water and Log by Margaret Mumford

in the junior category:  
Fuzzy Mushrooms by Katelyn Mumford

The judges did not see the names of the contestants during the judging, but the winners happen to be mother and daughter.  The Mumford family joined us for a free dinner at the Flat Penny, and the contest winners each received a framed copy of their winning photo. Here they are posing with their prizes:  

Many thanks to everyone who submitted photos and congratulations to the winners!