Hamilton Selectman Jennifer Scuteri may feel a bit like a Beverly Hillbilly.
Instead of striking oil in the Tennessee hills, Scuteri and other members of the Patton Family Gift Advisory Committee have been recently told that under the tall hill on the Patton property there is a large amount of septic fill gravel. An early estimate was that the gravel might be worth $1 million to $2 million.
Joanne Patton, , brought the potential windfall to the committee's attention. The town during a Town Meeting vote last month.
Several members of the committee immediately dampened the initial enthusiasm, warning that extracting the gravel would present challenges, particularly environmental ones.
"We are not going to strip mine the hill," Scuteri said.
The committee asked Town Manager Michael Lombardo to investigate the potential of the septic fill by having soil borings and other tests done to determine the feasibility of extracting the gravel.
The committee is scheduled to meet next at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at .
Saving birches planted by the General
There may also be other challenges, committee members said. On the hill are three Copper Birch trees, planted by Gen. George Patton, that might be endangered by the excavation.
And the hill, if left alone, would separate the Patton homestead from the proposed playing fields and preserve the current views from the home.
The committee also discussed several uses for the homestead. Patton is working with to extend its achiving program of the Patton documents and memorabilia.
Other uses that are being evaluated include .
Douglass Gordon, president of the Patton Foundation, has approached the town about buying or leasing the homestead for use as a heritage museum. The committee whether the Patton Foundation, which has no members or money, could raise the funds needed to maintain and develop the potential of the home.
"There is a lot more passion there than process," Scuteri said.
Other committee members said they thought the Patton Foundation had accomplished little toward its goals.
There seemed to be significant interest among the committee members to maintain a part of the Patton homestead to exhibit family and military history, artifacts, documents and other memorabilia.
"We are surprised at how much interest there is in that sort of thing," said committee member Peter Clark.
Selectman Marc Johnson said there is a lot of interest in having a Patton museum or place to exhibit his effects because it is not about the Civil War.
Contacts have already been made with Fort Knox in Kentucky, where there are Patton and World War II memorabilia stored.
Two multi-purpose fields could be built
Lombardo said the committee should wait until the comprehensive recreation plan is completed before deciding what sports fields might be built on the Patton land. A preliminary analysis shows that the town may have enough baseball fields, but is three to four fields short of the need for fields for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. The Patton land might be used for two large multi-purpose fields.
The committee also discussed the need for a full-time caretaker to live at the property and help manage and secure it. There may also be a need for a stable manager, who might live in the apartment above the stables.
The gift committee and its subcommittees plan to continue working through the summer to develop plans for the use of the property, which is expected to be turned over to the town by Sept. 15.