Hardscrabble land buy hits complications

STERLING - Town meeting may have given them the money, but selectmen have several hurdles to clear before the town can purchase nine acres of conservation land at 19 Hardscrabble Road.

First on the list: an inspection to make sure the former pig farm passes environmental muster.

"There's no oil drums around, we don't see any piles of chemicals, but that's for the professionals" to determine, Conservation Commission member David Mosely told selectmen last night.

If a full property inspection and soil test is required, the approximately $2,000 expense would be borne by town taxpayers, as would the $5,000 to $6,000 cost of a legal boundary survey.

Town meeting voters last week approved spending $185,000 on the land, roughly equal to the current owner's asking price. Because of a legal advertising requirement, the soonest the town could purchase the land is a month from now.

Town voters' clear intention was to provide access to 30 acres of "landlocked" forest that the town already owns, said Board of Selectmen Chairman Russell A. Philpot.

An outlet to Hardscrabble Road would allow the town to harvest timber and to open the land for hikers.

Since the town only needs an easement or a right-of-way across the property, it will likely sell much of the 9-acre parcel as a residential lot to recoup its expenses, Mr. Philpot said.

The property contains a prefabricated house, two sheds, a garage and a concrete barn. Selectmen said they would sell the land with the structures still standing.

Last night's meeting was the first for Selectman Ronald A. Furmaniuk, who was elected Monday.

With the departure of former board Chairman Richard A. Sheppard, the three-member board voted unanimously to name Mr. Philpot chairman and Paul M. Sushchyk vice chairman.

- Michael J. Ballway


Selectmen set search process for fire chief

PRINCETON - With the funding set aside at town meeting for a full-time fire chief, the Board of Selectmen Tuesday night approved a search process.

Town Administrator John Lebeaux recommended that the board appoint a screening committee to review the applications and present final candidates to the board for approval.

Mr. Lebeaux recommended that the screening committee include one member each from the Advisory Board, Personnel Committee and Public Safety Committee; police Chief Michele Powers; two members of the public at large; and himself.

Because the...

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