The proposed development and preservation plan for Stow Acres Country Club. (Photo courtesy Town of Stow)
STOW — The Town of Stow is pleased to announce that it has reached a conceptual agreement with the owners of Stow Acres Country Club to purchase the 115-acre North Course, allowing the Town to shape protection and development of the North Course in a way that aligns with community priorities.
The Country Club’s owners were approached by potential buyers several times, as recently as the end of 2020. Rather than sell, the owners agreed to work with the Town and other groups to design a creative development and preservation plan.
Since the beginning of the year, a unique public-private partnership, including Stow Conservation Trust, the Stow Planning and Conservation Departments, local development firm MCO & Associates, and Stow Acres Country Club have worked toward a multi-faceted plan to advance the interests of all parties. They have been supported by Dodson & Flinker, a planning and design firm.
At the Annual Town Meeting this year, Stow voters overwhelmingly agreed to spend $1.5 million in Community Preservation Act funds to purchase a conservation restriction on the adjacent 151-acre South Course. That spending is contingent on purchasing the majority of the North Course.
With agreements now in place between Stow Acres, the Town, and MCO & Associates, residents will be asked to affirm funding for the North Course purchase at a Fall 2021 Special Town Meeting.
The Town anticipates the following funding sources for the North Course purchase:
About $2.5 million from Community Preservation Act funds.
About $1 million from a combination of state grants, foundation grants, and private fundraising
Up to $500,000 in borrowing, in the FY 2023 town budget, to close any funding gaps.
The proposal for CPA funding must first be reviewed by the Town’s Community Preservation Committee. The request was presented, on Aug. 30, 2021, to the CPC jointly by the Conservation, Planning, and Recreation Departments, Town Administrator Denise Dembkoski, and the Stow Conservation Trust, signifying the historic importance of the project and the strong commitment of the Town and its partners.
The Stow Select Board has expressed unanimous support for the project. The Town will solicit additional support from the community and stakeholders in the coming weeks.
About 32 acres of the North Course parcel would be developed into smaller single-family, village-style homes, designed to limit the impact on the environment and maximize affordability. The remaining acreage will be set aside public conservation and recreation, with a short-term lease for continuing golf on nine holes of the North Course.
The proposal meets the goals of the working group of Town boards and stakeholders: Large-scale conservation and ecological restoration of the Town’s most sensitive areas; maintaining and creating recreation opportunities and diversifying housing with a traditional New England architecture to help the town meet its affordable housing goals.
No date has been set for Fall Town Meeting, though is it anticipated it will be held by the end of October.
The Town intends to hold a public forum before Town Meeting, allowing community members to hear more about the plan and ask questions. A similar forum in February, attended by more than 180 residents, provided critical feedback as the Town and its partners shaped a comprehensive plan.
Those interested in learning more about the proposal may visit the Stow Acres Planning Process page. The page includes a project FAQ and a public presentation about the proposal.
If you have questions or comments, please call Kathy Sferra, Stow Conservation Department, or Jesse Steadman, Stow Planning Department, at 978-897-4514.