Mayor Wu is proposing to use the city's eminent-domain powers to buy an acre of land along the shore of Sprague Pond, a little known pond on the Hyde Park/Dedham line off Sprague Street that the state last fall designated as a "great pond" open to the public.
The only problem with the designation: Currently the only public access to the pond is a tiny strip of land currently used to store trucks. The pond has great views of the Great Blue Hill, is part of the land that once made up Camp Meigs, where the 54th Massachusetts trained, and is the final resting place of a locomotive that plunged into it in 1834.
A City Council committee will study the proposal to use eminent domain to take two parcels that wrap around a bend on Lakeside Avenue, between Sprague Street and McDonald Street in Dedham that two developers had once hoped to put three condos on.
A former owner of the two parcels had once maintained the land as a private park for Lakeside Avenue residents.
The mayor's proposal would authorize the Boston Parks and Recreation Commission to take the land and then pay "damages" for doing so, using funds from the city Community Preservation Act fund, the money for which comes from a surcharge on property taxes in Boston.
The proposal does not specify a possible takings price. The city currently assesses the land at $271,649. On March 1, the two developers paid $325,000 for the land on March 1, according to Suffolk County Registry of Deeds records. They have recently been advertising the land for sale.
The mayor's request details the reason for taking the land to create the Sprague Pond Shoreline Reserve:
These parcels on the western shore of Sprague Pond are undeveloped, contribute to the scenic beauty of and provide access to this Great Pond, provide natural resource protection to the state-designated Fowl Meadow and Ponkapoag Bog Area of Critical Environmental Concern, are within the boundaries of the Camp Miegs Civil War-era training camp and hospital, where the Massachusetts 54th and 55th Volunteer Regiments trained, and are within an area considered "archaeologically sensitive for ancient and historic period preservation, and archaeological sensitivity make this a particularly worthy acquisition to Boston's parkland, and provide a public good of profound significance to this City and the Commonwealth that justified the serious responsibility involved in the taking of private property with just compensation.
With official state recognition last fall, Sprague Pond become only Boston's second "great pond," after Jamaica Pond. A key consideration: Whether the pond is or once was at least 10 acres in sizes, the minimum required for "great pond" designation under state laws that date to the Colonial Ordinance of 1641-1647.
Complete request to authorize taking of the land.