- FUN FEATURES
For years, the red barn on the Boulder Knoll property has sat vacant, slowly withering away, and now is nothing more than a dilapidated old building in need of some serious repair.
For a while, the Town of Cheshire toyed with the idea of restoring the barn to its former glory but, at this point, demolition and removal appears to be the last remaining option.
The roof is in disrepair and the wall boards are bowing off the studs after years of neglect. Town Councilor James Sima said the biggest concern with the barn is its integrity, and felt there wasn't much left to be saved.
"Everything in this world comes down to how much it costs, and it's not that historic of a barn in its design," Sima stated. "The framing is so rotted we'd have to take it down and build it back up again."
Sima doesn't feel the Town is ready to build a new barn on the Boulder Knoll property, and he, along with members of the Planning Subcommittee, have authorized Town Manager Michael Milone to solicit bids for demolition and removal.
Sima indicated that, with the barn so rotted, demolition was the logical choice.
Milone echoed those sentiments, stating that the Town had reached the point where demolition was the prudent course of action. He said the Council felt as though costs to restore the barn would be "very expensive" and it wasn't worth the capital expense to build a new one.
Kimberly Stoner, president of the Friends of Boulder Knoll, hoped that if the barn is eventually torn down, it could be deconstructed piece-by-piece so the materials, if any, could be reused and recycled. While disappointed, Stoner said the barn being demolished would not stop the Friends of Boulder Knoll pursuing other opportunities on the property.
"I think it's a shame that things have been allowed to deteriorate over the years," Stoner said, "but we aren't using the barn now and can't use it. It doesn't affect what we are doing in the short run."
The Friends of Boulder Knoll hired a farmer to start the Boulder Knoll Community Farm last year, where interested parties could buy shares of the crops produced and volunteer their time to help make the project successful.
This year, Stoner said, the group's farmer, Brenda Caldwell, has already been working on the property getting the beds ready for planting. The growing area is being increased this year to accommodate more crops and, slowly but surely, the property is being used again.
"We are also working on getting a source of water for the property, which would help out the farming aspect," Stoner explained. "The Town needs to decide what the plan is and what the property is."
As part of expanding the uses at Boulder Knoll, Sima said the Town is continuing to identify invasive species for removal on the property. Weeds, such as autumn olive and small cedar saplings, have already been spotted on the property and would render it useless if not contained. Sima acknowledged that the goal is to start mowing the fields at Boulder Knoll as well as to keep the vegetation to a minimum.
"We want to have it be a farm, not a forest, and what's there is all the beginning of reforesting of the property," Sima said. "We want to make sure it remains a farm. There are a lot of fields there to be used."
Milone said the Town has identified four sections of land that "we should try to attack" and he would be obtaining quotes to see how much it'd cost to have invasive species removed from the property. Stoner said the invasive species have not affected the community farming project. They have had to do some heavy work to keep the weeds out, as the group does not use pesticides or herbicides on its acreage.
"I think it's a good idea to remove the invasive species as part of a long term plan for the farm," Stoner said.