Should the Town Accept the Patton Property Gift? And How Can it Be Used?
The Patton Family Gift Advisory Gift Committee is hosting a public forum on Wednesday night to hear from residents about the gift of the Patton estate to the town.
The public can hear more on Wednesday night about the town of Hamilton’s plans to use the Patton property if voters choose to accept the gift. And they can then provide their two cents about what they think about those plans.
“The vote at Town Meeting is whether or not we should accept the gift,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Jennifer Scuteri said about the 27 acres of land and home off Asbury Street that has been offered to the town by Joanne Patton.
If accepted, the transfer has to happen by Aug. 1 under the terms of the gift offer, Scuteri said. If accepted, Scuteri said she wants to host a “town party” on the property in August.
While specific uses are being considered for the home and property – and the cost to own and operate it all is being calculated – Advisory Committee member and Selectman Marc Johnson said the “immediate objective” for the committee is whether to accept the gift.
“That’s the only decision we have to make” right now, he said.
The committee has already come up with the cost for the town to own the property in “stripped-down mode” without any new uses. Those costs will be presented on Wednesday. Further cost calculations for other plans have yet to be completed.
Most of the conversation has been about the use of the 6,000 square foot home. One of the leading ideas is to lease it to a bed and breakfast operator for a set period – five years, for example.
The bed and breakfast could be marketed as a destination for mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing and exploring the area, plus touted for its Patton family ties.
“It’s going to take someone’s heart and soul to do this,” Johnson said.
There are also horse stables on the property that could be rented for five to 10 horses, Johnson said.
The Hamilton-Wenham Recreation Commission is also in the midst of coming up with a Recreation Master Plan, and that will likely help determine the size, type and number of athletic fields that may be created on the property. Parking for those fields may be one of the largest costs with that, Johnson said.
The property also provides access to the Ipswich River and the construction of a Riverwalk is also possible.
“We’re throwing around all sorts of ideas,” Scuteri said. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in housing – a development piece.”
Johnson said he wants voters to see the possibilities in the property for the town before deciding to accept the gift.
“I don’t think they should accept it just because Mrs. Patton has been so wonderful to us,” Johnson said.
Before Annual Town Meeting in May, the committee plans to complete a 10-30 page report on the property, Johnson said.
“We’re open to hearing ideas,” Scuteri said, adding he hopes the committee is conversational with those that show up to offer feedback.