Lachat Conservation Education Center Committee: 

WARNING: This is not an official record of the activities of this Ad Hoc Committee.

Link above left to 1999 unofficial land use map of Weston...please remember that what is described below is not an official record of the Public Meetings observed by "About Town."  Some of the Master Plan committee members prepare for December 4th Board of Selectmen's meeting.  Jointly held Juliana Lachat Preserve (Nature Conservancy and the Town of Weston) developed by Vermont architect;  readied for the above noted presentation to Board of Selectmen.  Ultimately, beside consulting with Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance, three or more Boards and Commissions will have to take formal action if the Master Plan is to become reality.  And Town Meeting, too.  Special Town Meeting June 17, 2004 said "yes" to capital funding ($1.5 million plus interest on deferred assessment). 

Ad Hoc Conservation/Nature Center original main page:
After Special Town Meeting voted "yes" plans could really begin unfolding for how the roughly sketched details may work.  Design Development becomes preparation for local regulatory process;  Construction comes after approvals are received from Conservation Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, traffic and safety authorities.  About Town was not able to make the June 30, 2004 Special Meeting at 106 Godfrey Road (the site), but it is our understanding that after a tour of the site, a presentation on "green"construction was made - this being the most appropriate place for a demonstration of environmental sensitivity, as new buildings are blended with old and a very special viewshed is to be protected.

At June 3, 2004 Board of Selectmen's Meeting:  Special Town Meeting set...
Dr. Lynne Pierson and Richard Wolf added to AD HOC Conservation/Nature Center Committee (filling vacancies);  Special Town Meeting June 17, 2004, 8pm, Weston Library for next step in realization of Juliana Lachat Preserve as education center.

AD HOC CONSERVATION/NATURE CENTER COMMITTEE:  notice of Special Meeting Thursday, May 20, 2004 at 11am, Commission Room at Town Hall:  approval of minutes;  plans for Town Meeting in June;  Committee vacancies;  discussion of contracts and project schedule/minutes approved, discussion took place on subjects on the agenda but no action was taken, and no discussion of contracts took plasce.

Board of Finance votes 3-3 with one abstention on funding Lachat environmental education project - so it does not get approved - April 1, 2004 "deliberation" meeting.  Not up for a vote, therefore, at ATBM on April 14.

AGENDA: With a quorum present, agenda items were addressed (minutes, etc.) and further investigation of the depth, type and time for funding the commitment, from the Town of Weston, for the construction for this project, was discussed;  The Nature Conservancy seeks to move to the next level with the Juliana Lachat Preserve and education center, but awaits what it considers the necessary actions by the Town of Weston.
AD HOC NATURE CENTER/CONSERVATION COMMITTEE:  read of Board of Selectmen meetings re:  this proposal HERE.

Special Meeting Monday, December 22, 2003 at 11am:  minutes approved, discussion of phasing and related costs of these phases plus add-on for energy creation features;  up-fronting costs by Nature Conservancy (in part) plus upkeep funding from Leon Lachat's estate;  date for presentation to the Board of Selectmen (#2) in January (either the special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 6 or Thursday, Jan. 15 (Regularly scheduled meeting).  "About Town" left @12:15pm, before this meeting ended.

Special Meeting Friday, November 14, 2003 at 1pm in the Commission Room at Town Hall - review of Master Plan and model...still in DRAFT stage prior to presentation proposed for December 4 Board of Selectmen's meeting.

Friday, October 10, 2003, 10am, Commission Room
Quorum present.  Minutes of 9/24/03 meeting approved.  Next came discussion with Jim Edgecomb of Draft Final Master Plan.  Three sets of drawings were shown (1" = 40' MASTER PLAN;  1" - 30'  for MODEL;  and 1"= 20'  FARMYARD) and a set of elevations of education building.  NOTE:  Master Plan is now conscious of the importance of keeping meadow views from Godfrey Road clear of "developed" character.  Any buildings erected will be both out of "viewshed" from cars and people in them (or pedestrians) and of a nature and scale that fills the expectation of the kind of building appropriate for inclusion in a farming landscape plan.  Discussion of future meetings and preparation for these were discussed with no conclusion.  The Committee will meet again to set these requirements and dates @ December.

AD HOC NATURE CENTER/CONSERVATION COMMITTEE...meeting not attended by "About Town" selects, preliminarily (please remember, this is reliable report, but not personally observed), OPTION ONE 'B'.

MARCH 11, 2003 12 NOON MEETING (Town Hall Commission Room) - partial report.  At the part of the meeting "About Town" attended (from 12 noon to 1:30pm) Jim Edgecomb and a quorum of AD HOC COMMITTEE reviewed three (3) primary alternative designs with variations of detail.  Click HEREto see illustrative drawing ("Bird's Eye View" or axonometric projections of building layout and site plan details including topography).

AD HOC Conservation/Nature Center Committee, February 11, 2003, 4:40pm, Town Hall Commission Room
AGENDA:  1)discussion of Architect's Plans  2)discussion re: budget planning  3)any other matters

AD HOC Conservation/Nature Center Committee, January 28, 2003, @4pm
Not properly noticed, this meeting (only for AD HOC COMMITTEE members--not with consultant/architect) could not and did not take place, although information was given to "About Town" that the upcoming, next meeting with the architect would be properly noticed and scheduled correctly-- expected to take place February 13, 2003:  an assembled "walk" at the Juliana Lachat Preserve at 1pm, returning for a 3pm meeting at Town Hall Commission Room--NOTE:  this part of the meeting may begin a bit early.  The 4th and final meeting with the architect is now seen as happening in March.

AD HOC Conservation/Nature Center Committee
AGENDA for January 14, 2003, 4:30pm, Commission Room:
1.  Review and discussion of proposed alternative parking layouts for Nature Center/no turnaround desired, but alternatives for the one-way road concept reviewed positively.
2.  Discussion of Edgecomb architectural costs and services/discussion of how to best schedule next phases of the effort and coordinate with other financial project for the Town of Weston.
3.  Any other matters/next meeting should be January 28, 2003 at 1pm in the Commission Room, unless more time requested by architect..

A Special Meeting was held on Wednesday, December 11, 2002, from 4:10pm to 4:45pm to address specific questions about the condition and location of the barns on the Juliana Lachat Preserve property.  A quorum was present.  Discussion ensued relating to whether the existing barn complex could be "stabilized" for a reasonable price and whether or not it or any part of it should remain in the plan.  It was noted that a gradual approach to this project, maintaining existing buildings in good and safe condition was necessary for the Town, without major expense or "site development" costs (i.e. "country roads" without impervious surfaces) to keep the feeling of rural Weston while still being able to use the property as intended. 
AD HOC CONSERVATION/NATURE CENTER COMMITTEE: second meeting with Edgecomb post approval of financing...THURSDAY, Dec. 5, 2002 at 1:15pm-2:45pm;  "About Town" left at this time, but meeting continued in the Town Hall Commission Room.

Present:  all but Mary Kolek; Jim Edgecomb and Matt from Edgecomb Design Group.
Regular meeting dates for 2003 and January 2004 were set--second Tuesday of the month at 4:30pm in the Town Hall Commission Room, except for November 2003--second Wednesday that month.  George Guidera moved, Dick Bochinski seconded, motion to adopt the above dates and time for the next year's regular meetings of the AD HOC Conservation/Nature Center Committee.  Unanimously approved.  Delivered to the Town Clerk.

Jim Edgecomb gave an overview of the project's "prime design challenges/opportunities."  Based upon topographic (digital) maps at 1"=50' scale, a series of colored drawings were displayed.  Each option shown had sub-options, and at the present scale it was easy to read as regards traffic and parking and general planning layout.  The areas of "challenge" involve the following:  access, parking, bus turnaround, evaluation of buildings and possible development, entry, wetlands.  Multiple schemes were presented.  The earlier part of the consultants day was taken up with tour and observations on site at the Juliana Lachat Preserve.

First discussed was access.  There are four points of access:  1)existing   2)realignment of road access to the east, between two trees (42' separates oaks)   3)through meadow   4)Ladder Hill Road.

Second discussed was parking.  How much and where parking is provided--and is it gravelled, paved (not preferred), one-way, two-way flow of traffic between parking opportunities, mingling or not of different modes (car, bus, delivery and garbage vehicles);  requirements for turnaround space differs for cars and bus traffic.

Third to be discussed was status of existing buildings, their future role to maintain "courtyard" for the farm and pedestrian flows.  The Farmstead can be renovated and preserved for use as administration and intern housing, according to Edgecomb.  The barn can be maintained as a barn, but not feasible to renovate for public use.  Rear house not worth renovating (because it has become a modern structure--denatured as an historical artifact).  The garage blocks the "gateway" to the Den.

Entry points were discussed next.  Based upon other experiences, members of the Committee suggested not paving much of the access, trying to reduce impact of bus loading and standing/waiting.  One way traffic was favored by some, narrow travelways by others.  Intrusion on wetlands will not be done, of course, but relocation and creation of new wetlands, in cooperation with Conservation, P&Z, to enhance the teaching aspect and learning about ecology first hand for visitors and students, is a good thing.  At this point (2:45pm.)  "About Town" had to depart.  NEXT MEETING:  end of January (28?).

AD HOC CONSERVATION/NATURE CENTER COMMITTEE:  first meeting with Edgecomb post approval of financing...TUESDAY, OCT. 15, 2002, 3pm-est. 6pm, Town Hall Commission Room:
"About Town" arrived at meeting late--@3:45pm and left early--5:30pm;  all members present.  Jim Edgecomb and "Matt" had been in Weston all day and reported on their discussions with Town staff (majority of this reporting took place, most likely, before we arrived).   Excellent meeting to observe, choice of Edgecomb Group seems to be the right fit for this endeavor.

Dates set for three (3) other meetings with the Conservation/Nature Center Ad Hoc Committee:
Dec. 5, 2002 at 2pm; January 28, 2003 (tent.) and March 6, 2003 (tent.) we assume at the same time in the same location--Town Hall Commission Room.

Charge  to the architects (as written in document not in "About Town's" possession) from summer 2002) includes:

  1. work on existing front house for The Nature Conservancy and their partner organization) offices
  2. visitors' center, rest rooms, kitchen
  3. tent facility for outdoor events (temporary tent--not a permanent structure)
  4. classroom for total 60 student (with divider to permit 2 classroom activities at a time)

Other details of "program" discussed, including place for equipment shed and related vehicles), parking lot (s) and how many paved spaces are needed immediately and how many can wait.  Emphasis on original plantings, maintaining homestead and walls and plantings and out-building relationships.  Wetland corridor to be organized and enhanced as natural example of wetland for teaching purposes.

Final product for the Committee will be a "booklet" but other drawing and visuals will be created.  Drawings will be 1"=40' unless more architectural or engineering detail is required at some point.  Committee emphasized desire to have a model created showing entire property as it relates to neighborhood and the Den.  Vistas to be maintained and enhanced.

Not changing the look of the property is key.  "About Town" will not go into any more detail here, because this was a "working" meeting and the process seems to be developing very well.

DRAFT AGENDA  dated 10-4-02... (NOT the official agenda):

  • CHARGE TO THE ARCHITECTS (has anything changed?)
  • MISSION STATEMENT ("guiding principles for the project")
  • DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS (based on letter dated February 12, 2002; not presented at a public meeting, so not a public document)
  • REPORT ON PERMITTING RESEARCH (brief review of days activities before this meeting)
  • VISIONS  from three (3) architects' presentations @Thursday, October 10, 2001 Town Hall, Norfield Road, Weston, CT;  previous interviews as observed by "About Town:"
  • (1) Jim Edgecomb - 4:00pm-5pm - observed by "About town", October 10, 2001- unanimous choice (9-23-02) of AD HOC COMMITTEE at this meeting;
    (2)  Leonard Baum - 5:00pm - observed previously by "About Town", in part, June 28, 2001;
    (3)  Bob Faesy - 6:00pm - observed by "About Town" previously, in part, June 12, 2001.

    Board of Selectmen unanimously recommends to Board of Finance $25,500 "special appropriation" for MASTER PLAN funding (50% of cost--Nature Conservancy to put up other 50%) - BD of FINANCE OK's $26,000 Oct. 10.