In the News

Mid April, 2012--Town Meetiing Warrants sent to Bolton Residents
Have you seen the Town Meeting Warrant? It doesn't seem to be on the town website yet (as of 4/17), but it was mailed to resident's homes.  The Fyfeshire Dam article is #14. We (the Group for the Preservation etc.) encourage all Bolton residents to attend Town Meeting on Monday, May 7 and to vote yes to item #14.

March 30, 2012--The Bolton Common reports that the selectmen voted unaniously to recommend appropriating $250,000 to lower the Fyfeshire Dam. Bolton Selectmen mull town meeting articles

Jan. 20, 2012 Clinton Item article by Ken Cleveland outlines town priorities for Bolton in the coming year, including Fyfeshire dam:  Bolton outlines priorities for 2012

Jan. 19, 2012— The Bolton Common report on the Bolton Selectman's meeting leads with discussion of a proposal to lower the water level in the pond to remove it from state jurisdiction: 
Notes from the Jan. 5 Bolton Board of Selectmen meeting

Jan. 13, 2012—The Clinton Item reported on a new proposal discussed at the Bolton Selectman's meeting that would entail lowering the water in the pond to a level that would remove the pond from regulation by the state:  Lowering Dam Level May Be 'Win-Win' Solution

Dec. 13, 2011—The Bolton Common reports that environmental and other groups are urging lawmakers to support the dam safety bill in which the state would provide long-term loans to towns to take action on unsafe dams:  Groups urge action on dam safety bill

Nov. 3, 2011—The Bolton Common published the following letter to the editor:

Walk could be fun tradition
I am writing to publicly thank the organizers of the Harry Potter Walk that took place recently at Bolton’s Fyfeshire Conservation Area. What a wonderful way to introduce people to this picturesque area. The little grand-wizards I accompanied on the search for deathly hallows and horcruxes had a wonderful time, despite the apparent efforts of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to discourage the quest by blowing in a gust of cold, rainy wind just as we were about to set out with our Marauder’s Map.

The mini-tempest quickly subsided, and we joined hordes of other wizards as they searched along the trail for a giant squid, dispatched a Dementor, and correctly answered the Spirit of the Forest when asked for the password to proceed across the bridge by the dam.

The Fyfeshire is suitably spooky for a conclave of little wizards and witches, with plenty for the elders among us to enjoy as well. While the would-be Hogwarts students practiced spells and followed the map searching for clues, this grandmother witch took in the colorful trees reflected in the pond, the geese that swam among the pond lilies, and the splotches of sunlight that danced through the leaves in the canopy overhead, making this forest feel truly magical.

I’ve been told that more than 200 people from 15 towns attended this first-ever Harry Potter Walk — many, I’m sure, hoping that this will become an annual event. I hope that next year people will rally behind the six people who organized it this year and help make this a Bolton tradition. — Lynda King, Lancaster Road

July 25, 2011  The Bolton Common published a description of Fyfeshire Conservation Area as a hiking destination:  Discover the Trails of Bolton

April 1, 2011—The Bolton Common published the following letter to the editor:

Duped by dam presentation
I attended the movies presented by the Bolton Conservation Commission at the Bolton Library on March 29. I have to say that I felt a bit duped by the commission.

The announcement spoke of two movies: “Restoring America’s Rivers: Preparing for the Future” and “Taking a Second Look: Communities and Dams.” I expected to see two movies on the two opposing views regarding dam removal or dam repair. Instead, both movies had an almost identical theme and were completely pro dam removal.

I understand that the Conservation Commission has a certain view on this topic, but I feel that the advertisement was misleading. I would have much preferred to see one movie on each side of the topic. — Andrew Keane, South Bolton Road

March 25, 2011The Clinton Item reported on the withdrawal of the articles from the Bolton town meeting warrant:  Fyfeshire Articles Withdrawn
This issue also contained a letter to the editor announcing the Pond Party on April 2.

The Bolton Common also reported on the withdrawal of the articles:   Fate of Bolton's Fyfeshire Dam Put on Hold .  This issue also included the Pond Party announcement. 

March 18, 2011The Clinton Item reported on the March 10 Selectmen's meeting, noting the likelihood that both warrant articles would be withdrawn:  Dam articles may be changed, delayed

March 18, 2011The Bolton Common reported on the March 10 Selectmen's meeting in which the dam was discussed, at times heatedly:  Bolton  Selectmen Discuss the Fate of Fyfeshire Dam

The above issues of both the Common and the Item also published the following letter to the editor:

Common heading: Help preserve the pond /Item heading:  Be on the side of preservation for Fyfeshire Dam

We are hearing a lot lately about saving the Fyfeshire ponds. Where are these ponds located? Many of you pass by the big pond on your way to Interstate 495 or to the winery and the Bolton Roadhouse on Wattaquadock Hill Road. Some of you have stopped at the entrance and found a smaller pond with a footbridge where one can stop and listen to the water cascade over the falls.
Ahead is a walking path through the woods, which takes us to a century old dam. This is a tiny structure in the woods that serves to control the water of the big pond. Since this dam is in disrepair, the Bolton Conservation Commission voted to remove the dam rather than repair it. This will cause the pond to dry up and become a swampy marsh.
There are protected Blanding’s turtles in these waters. Geese, Blue Heron and other birds feed here. Deer come to the shoreline to take a drink, and on occasion, some beavers will construct a formidable dam at no charge.
All of this, and the beauty of the area itself make one wonder how anyone would choose to destroy this gift from Helen Plummer, who, back in 1969, left it to the town of Bolton as a conservation area for the enjoyment of all.
Anyone who wants to be on the side of preservation, please go to You may also call 978-365-6867.
— Priscilla Galeski, member, The Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds

March 11, 2011The Bolton Common published the following letter to the editor:

Why save Fyfeshire Dam?

Did you know that as a result of our expansion and development, Massachusetts has lost over one-third of its original wetlands? True, the Fyfeshire Conservation area in Bolton was once a stream damned up for commercial use by Mr. Fyfe about 1830 as a button factory and other businesses in the area.
Over the years, it has filled in and turned into a fresh water marsh — a natural evolution. Wetlands benefits directly impact our health and well being, for example: flood control by slowing the flow of water during major storms, recharging of aquifers by storing water, and filtering water to keep it clean and a respite area for us to just get away from our busy, hectic lives.

A marsh is defined as a mineral-rich wetland dominated by grassland herbs such as grasses, cattails, rushes and others. Destroying a healthy wetland means destroying important habitats, species, gene pools of biodiversity and eventually our own survival. Because of this loss of habitat, migrating and nesting birds that depend upon marshes have fewer places to be safe, sleep at night or be able to raise their offspring successfully.

Several years ago, Elizabeth Bagdonnas and I did separate inventories of the Fyfeshire parcel. In the marsh area alone, we have 17 types of flowers, six wetland ferns, three wetland trees, three wetland shrubs, four wetland grasses, 14 types of birds, four types of dragonflies, two damselfly species, small brown bats, six species of frogs, toad, red-backed salamanders, leeches, three types of snakes, three kinds of turtles (including Blanding's) and seven types of fish that depend on this shallow, warm water with the brook running through it to keep it healthy.

This does not include all the other plants, animals birds, mushroom, trees, shrubs, and grasses that call Fyfeshire home in the woods and fields surrounding the fresh water wetland. The dam removal would change the fresh water marsh into a red maple swamp. The benefits of wildlife by keeping the dam in place are far greater than by its removal.

I urge you to keep this vital wetland and surrounding areas intact for all of us to live around and enjoy. I would be happy to give you a personal guided tour of the fascinating history and natural world we have at the Fyfeshire Conservation area owned by the town of Bolton. — Rona Balco, Green Road

March 4, 2011— The Bolton Common covered discussion of the Fyfeshire Dam at the Feb. 28 Selectmen's meeting where the Conservation Commission presented its case.
View article 

Feb. 18, 2011— The Clinton Item published an article outlining the current status and efforts to put repair of the dam on the town warrant:
View article: Fyfeshire Funding to Be Decided at Town Meeting.

In the same issue, the Item reports that at a meeting last week the Bolton Selectmen went through the articles for the May town meeting, including repair/removal of the Fyfeshire Dam. 
View article:  Selectmen Review Articles

The Bolton Common published an article outlining the Bolton Selectmen's meeting, including a description of several of the issues related to the articles for repair/removal of the dam.
View article: Bolton Selectmen Get First Look at Town Meeting Warrant

Feb. 11, 2011— The Bolton Common published the following letter to the editor:

Dam is worth saving

Bolton’s Fyfeshire Conservation Area on Wattaquadock Hill Road – 30 acres of beautiful woodland and wetland; an area gifted to the town in 1969 for the use and enjoyment of its citizenry in perpetuity; steeped in history as the former home of two documented factories, one for shell buttons, and one for ornamental hair combs; current home to many regional wildlife varieties, ordinary and threatened, and depending upon Fyfeshire’s resources for year-round and migratory livelihood.

It is no wonder that our Historical Commission favors saving the ponds at Fyfeshire through repair of the lower dam rather than removal of this integral structure which will mean a devastating change in character of the wetland portion of these acres forever.  Become more informed about this issue at  If you still have questions leave a message at 978-779-5022 and I will get back to you.

Martha Remington, Chairman
Bolton Historical Commission

Feb. 4, 2011—The Bolton Common has published an in-depth, front-page article about the issue of the dam. Recommended reading for anyone who wants to learn more about the issue. View article.


Jan. 28, 2011—The Clinton Item published the following letter to the editor:

Join the effort to save Bolton's Fyfeshire Pond

Help us save the Fyfeshire Pond on Wattaquadock Hill Rd.

Having lived in Bolton for over 60 years abutting the ponds, my family and I have many connections to this property. My father-in-law farmed the land adjacent to the pond, using the water for the irrigation of his crops. When my in-laws were young, they swam in the summers and skated in the winter. As a youth, my husband fished in the ponds with his friends from surrounding towns. My children and neighbors used the ponds for skating and hockey.

Historically,  the ponds and dams powered a sawmill, comb and button factories in the early 1800s. In more recent times, the Fish and Game used it as a trout pool.

If the Bolton Conservation Commission gets its way, it will remove the dam, thereby draining the pond and leaving a vernal pool that will be a haven for mosquitoes.  Is this such a good idea in this day and age of mosquitoes carrying illnesses; who will then take responsibility?  It would be a shame to lose such a historical and recreational asset to Bolton and area.

To learn more about this topic and petition, go to

Lee Galeski

Jan. 14, 2011—The Bolton Common published the following letter to the editor.  This letter also appeared in the Jan. 21 issue of the Clinton Item. Oddly enough, the Common has not reported on the Conservation Commission's vote to remove the dam, now two months past.  Why? Are they trying to cover things up?

Take a good look at Fyfeshire Conservation Area

Did you know?  The Bolton Conservation Commission has voted to remove the dam at the far end of the larger pond in the Fyfeshire Conservation Area on Wattaquadock Hill Rd.
The state has pronounced the dam unsafe and ordered the town to repair or remove it. 
This will turn an expanse of open water that reflects the trees on the surrounding shores into a field of skunk cabbage. 

As I look out my front window over the frozen pond, I feel like we are losing an old friend and neighbor.  A large part of the enjoyment of this recreation area and a good bit of our history will disappear with the loss of the dam.  And what of the wildlife who call this place home?  What are the unintended consequences of upsetting an ecosystem established over a hundred years?

Whether we repair or remove the dam, the cost to our cash-strapped town is significant. The difference in cost is less so.  The question becomes what we want in the end.  The answer to that question impacts not only Bolton residents but those in surrounding towns who enjoy the area, whether by glancing at the pond as they drive by or stopping for a walk along the shore.  If you haven’t been to Fyfeshire lately, I encourage you to visit.  It may be your last chance to enjoy the beauty of this special place.  You can learn more about Fyfeshire and this issue at

Edi Ablavsky
525 Wattaquadock Hill Rd.

Jan. 11, 2011—The state issued a report on the local financial impact of the Dam Safety Law yesterday. The report states that 100 dams in 62 cities throughout Massachusetts are in poor or unsafe condition.  Thirty-two of those are in Worcester County.  Most of those have been designated in poor condition, with only six in the “unsafe” category, including Fyfeshire Dam in Bolton.  An Associated Press article and link to the report can be found on the WBUR website. (More on this report in our Jan. 13 blog entry.)

Dec. 3-9, 2010—The Bolton Common published the following letter to the editor:

To the editor:

I recently returned home to Bolton for Thanksgiving and went for a walk in the Fyfeshire Conservation Area, as I have since I was a child.  This walk has become part of my ritual of homecoming, enriched not simply by the beautiful surroundings but by the memories of a happy childhood exploring what then seemed a vast and mysterious wilderness.  Now that I have grown up and traveled far from Bolton, part of me—the adult, rational part—recognizes that the conservation area is, after all, two small ponds with a trail in the woods.  But another part of me will always view it with the sentimental, imaginative gaze of that child who saw more.  For that part of me, this landscape seems as wondrous as the Grand Canyon or the Rockies.

My recent walk was made bittersweet, however, by the news that the Fyfeshire dam would soon be removed, eliminating the two ponds in the conservation area.  The land will still be protected, but much of its aesthetic appeal will vanish.  I know that repairing the dam will cost a cash-strapped town (costs which I, no longer a Bolton resident, will not have to bear).  My point, though, is not to interfere in the financial affairs of the town.  I write only as someone who has benefitted substantially from this town’s investments—in excellent schools, a lovely library, and extensive public lands—both to express my appreciation and to urge residents to weigh costs and benefits appropriately.  The price is clear; it comes labeled in dollars and cents.  Unfortunately, the rewards cannot be similarly reduced to a balance sheet, but, in my case at least, they have been no less real and substantial.


Gregory Ablavsky
1619 Rodman St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(Formerly of 525 Wattaquadock Hill Rd.)

Dec. 3, 2010—The Clinton Item seems to have scooped the Bolton Common by publishing the first announcement of the Conservation Commission's recent vote to remove the Fyfeshire Dam.  The front page of the December 3 issue contains an article titled "Dam removal just beginning."  View article