Hollis voters asked to support Article 3

To the Editor:

At Town Meeting in Hollis this year, Warrant Article 3 gives the voters the opportunity to purchase and permanently protect nearly 1 mile of shorefront and 140 acres on Rocky Pond.

This beautiful, 64-acre pond is more than 1½ times larger than Silver Lake. It has remained pristine because it has been owned by the Bell-Worcester family since the mid-1880s. In 1992, the land was approved for a subdivision, and is poised to go on the market this spring if not purchased by the town.

Since the 1940s, the family has operated a members-only Rocky Pond beach club to help offset expenses. However, the owners are no longer able to continue this, and have offered this beautiful pond and much of the shoreline to the town of Hollis. This is a one-time opportunity for all Hollis residents to enjoy this jewel of a property while protecting its top-rated wildlife habitat and securing a water resource valuable for both aquifer and groundwater protection. Rocky Pond is an important source of water to the town by feeding into the Nissitissit aquifer.

A nature lovers’ haven, Rocky Pond is a four-season treasure. In the spring, walk the trails to enjoy the mountain laurel. In summer, hike, ride horses and mountain bike around the pond, swim, paddle, fish, pick wild blueberries and just relax. In the fall, hike through the beautiful foliage. In winter, enjoy ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and fishing.

If the town purchases this land, the Land Protection Study Committee recommends that the Board of Selectmen appoint a committee to determine the best passive recreational uses of the land and water while protecting them forever.

The purchase of the Bell heirs’ portion of Rocky Pond, Warrant Article 3, has the support of the selectmen. The purchase price is $2.4 million. Including the estimated cost of procurement, the total price will be $2.55 million. The interest rate on a 15-year bond to the town is currently about 2.56 percent, making the yearly tax impact on a $400,000 home $81.00 a year.

This year is an exceptionally good time to purchase Rocky Pond because of the low interest rate on bonds, and also because many of the town and the school bonds are completing over the next three years. After 15 years, this large portion of Rocky Pond will be paid for, and will benefit Hollis forever.

Birch Hill, the watershed and view shed to Rocky Pond, is also being offered to the town in Warrant Article 2. The purchase of both of these properties would further protect these land and water resources, provide great recreational opportunities, and create a green corridor and formalize the trail system from Beaver Brook, around Rocky Pond, up Birch Hill, and on to Monson and the Hollis Town Forest.

The Land Protection Study Committee urges Hollis residents to attend Town Meeting on Saturday, March 12, at 10 in the morning at Hollis Brookline High School and vote "Yes" on Article 3, Rocky Pond. There will also be a public informational meeting at Hollis Town Hall on Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m., or find out more at the town website at www.hollisnh.org. (click on the Town Meeting/Budget link).

David Gilmour

Hollis Land Protection Committee