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Framingham Resident to Vote on Buying Golf Course for $5.5M

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Residents will decide in two weeks whether to spend $5.5 million to purchase a 14-hole golf course in northwest Framnigham to spare the property from being developed.

At a hastily arranged meeting on Wednesday night, select men voted to call a Special Town Meeting Sept. 1 to determine whether Framingham will exercise its right of first refusal to purchase the Millwood Farms Golf Course.

The owners of the 68-acre property notified the town in May that they had agreed to sell the course to a Southborough developer. The notice triggered a 120-day timeline for the town to decide whether it will match the offer.

As recently as last week, town officials believed the parties involved in the transaction were willing to extend the 120-day window, which is set to expire in early September.

In an update provided to the Board of Selectmen earlier this month, Town Manager Bob Halpin report that Capital Group Properties, the buyer hoping to develop new residential lots on the course, was “open to a brief extension” of the decision period, giving residents time to make a decision at the fall Town Meeting in October.

That picture changes at the end of last week however, when Town Counsel Christopher Petrini began “perceiving that there was some wavering” by the buyers about their willingness to postpone the sale, Selectman Cheryl Tully Stoll said.

It’s since been “made clear that there was no extension,” Tolly Stoll said, forcing the board to quickly assemble Wednesday and call a Special Town Meeting in just 15 days to decide the fate of the course.

“It’s been a lot of hurry up and move,” Tully said, “and I commend everybody who’s been involved in this process for doing that.”

The course, beside Callahan State Park, spans the area between Millwood and Grove streets. Its longtime owner, the Drake family, ha agreed to sell the course for $5.5 million to Capital Group, a real estate development and management company.

Capital Group spokesman Bob Depietri told the Daily News in june that the company is exploring several options for the site, ranging from building condominiums to age-restricted housing or single-family homes.

Under state law, the town has the right to match any bona fide offer to buy the golf course and convert it to another use. That privilege stems from the fact that the owners currently enjoy tax breaks on a portion of the golf course classified as recreational land.

Proponents of buying the land argue it will allow Framingham to preserve its diminishing supply of undeveloped land. The town could also take over management of the course and open it up in the winter to new forms of recreation, such as sledding and cross country skiing.The board voted in June to study the feasibility of managing the course, an effort that was aided by a consultant with experience in golf management. While the consultant has yet to finish its final report, Tully said selectmen received an “expedited release” of its data on Monday.

After meeting in private on Wednesday, selectmen voted 3-0 to schedule next Month’s Special Town Meeting. Selectmen Charlie Sisitsky said the board doesn’t have enough enough information yet to make a recommendation about purchasing the course, but it was important to preserve the town’s options.

“This is a very unique and rare opportunity for the town to take advantage of this opportunity,” Sisitsky said. “It doesn’t come along very often, and it’s a very important decision to make for (the) long-term future of the town, in terms of the quality of life, what we do about development in the northwest quadrant, what we do to preserve open space and a number of other things,”

Tully Stoll said it’s important for the public in.

“It’s a very important decision,” she said, “and my personal feeling is that a decision of this size should be fully vetted by Town Meeting and have the opportunity ti be aired so the public can show their support.