Open Space Committee

The Need
Open space and recreational planning will help us preserve open space while allowing development to occur that is consistent with the character of the Town.  Harvard’s open space and park system is a valued and limited resource, which has been difficult to acquire and maintain, and needs to be protected and improved upon.

The local farms, open space, and our natural resources are key elements of our rural character ­­-- and all are irreplaceable. Currently 58% of Harvard is open space, but only a half of that is permanently protected. The character of the town would be dramatically and permanently altered if all the unprotected open space were to be developed. We need to identify key areas for future acquisition for passive and active recreation.

The Town needs to develop a stronger open space and recreation management program.  This need to incorporate region-wide solutions, where feasible, in order to meet the competing demands of the varied constituencies. Predicting the Town’s needs would help us plan for funding, but we also recognize that more efforts to supplement Town resources will be needed.

A committee, representative of the varied interests, is needed to address these issues, and to provide the Town with the information and potential resources that can support the stated goals.

The Committee
The Open Space Committee will consist of nine members who are appointed to 2-year terms by the Select Board comprised of a member or designee: of the Select Board, Conservation Commission, Harvard Conservation Trust, Parks and Recreation Commission School Department, The Harvard Athletic Association, Planning Board, Agricultural Commission and one member at large. The Town’s Land Use Administrator/Conservation Agent and/or Town Planner and Department of Public Works Director may participate as non-voting members on an as needed basis.

The Goals

  • Using the 2016 Open Space and Recreation Master Plan (“Plan”) as a starting point, develop a process for prioritizing lands for open space preservation and recreational needs based on current and anticipated future demand.  In addition, the Committee will participate in periodic updates to the 2016 Master Plan
  • Possible acquisition for open space and recreational use.
  • Advise the Town on land acquisition and open space protection by assessing the Town’s right-of-first refusal on land coming out of Chapter 61 and evaluate any surplus land or tax-default properties that may come up.
  • Provide guidance for future development or redevelopment of the Town’s land for passive or active recreation, which also includes open space, trails, natural features, landscape and viewshed.
  • Develop a capital improvement plan for the protection and development of open space and recreation.Act as Town liaison with individuals and land protection advocacy groups working to protect open space or develop recreational facilities.
  • Work with Town boards to identify private/non-profit, State and Federal funding sources.
  • Assist in updating the Open Space & Recreation Plan when required.Work with other Town Boards & Committees to implement the Goals and Objectives of the Town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan.
  • Identify which group is responsible for maintenance of each property.
  • Present a semi- annual report at a duly convened Select Board meeting.