Ducks line up for Windham Foundation to take over Turner site

By Cynthia Prairie
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Grafton Select Board Monday night gave its blessing to the Agency of Natural Resources to turn over the historic Daisy Turner property to the Windham Foundation as part of an agreement with Preservation Trust Vermont to restore the remaining cabin and build a kiosk and access road for visitors.

Five acres will be transfered with the cabin, according to ANR’s Jane Lazorchak, who spoke to the Select Board on Monday. She added that it was a good fit for the Windham Foundation to take over the property since it owns land that abuts it to the north and east. The Windham Foundation has also agreed to give the ANR a right-of-way through its property to build the access road, which is now needed since beavers have flooded a portion of Turner Hill Road, making it impassable.

Click map to enlarge.

Click map to enlarge.

The Turner property is located south of the Grafton Ponds off Townshend Road. The new access road would be built off Turner Hill Road, looping east then south back to the Turner property. (See map)

The Turner property is currently part of the 1,000-acre Turner Hill Wildlife Management Area owned by the ANR. The work would preserve and highlight the history of the noted African-American storyteller and her family, while the ANR continues to preserve a teeming wildlife habitat.

Paul Bruhn of Preservation Trust Vermont said Tuesday that the cost of the work, which involves clearing land, stabilizing and doing simple rehabilitation on the cabin as well as building the access is down to $270,000 from the original estimate of $370,000.

The ANR will pick up the cost of building the road. Thus far, PTV has raised $250,000 and needs only $20,000 to meet its goal. Donors include the National Trust, VELCO, ANR, the Vermont Housing Conservation Board and the 1772 Foundation.

While there had been earlier talk of razing the cabin, PTV believed that it should be preserved and restored somewhat. “There will be occasions for events in which the building could be opened” though not furnished, said Bruhn.

Lazorchak told the board that the Turner Hill WMA “is rich in wildlife in this area … (with the) highest concentration of bear up there, a lot of moose, a heron rookery, otters. I feel lucky we’ve been able to preserve it.” She said she expected the building to be restored in the summer or fall.

The board agreed to the transfer unanimously.

In other news:

  • The Select Board named The Chester Telegraph its paper of record, along with a conventional newspaper. The Telegraph will be putting up posters around town announcing that Grafton public notices will now be available on line.
  • Two park parcels were added to the town’s real estate holdings, both the victims of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. Wilson Park at Kidder Hill Road along the Saxtons River was extended to take in the former pump house, which had to be torn down.  And property just east of the old town garage at 882 VT Route 121, which contained a home before Irene, was named for the first owner, Winnie Rogers. It will be called Winnie Park.
  • Roads Foreman Danny Taylor has suggested adding another 40 hours of comp time to the current 40 that a town worker could take. Taylor, who wasn’t in attendance, has told the board that it could save the town money that it might have to pay in overtime for road work.  Board member Al Sands suggested that while it wouldn’t have made much difference this year, “in a harsh winter we could save money.” The board decided to wait until Taylor appeared before it to take up the discussion again. The board is also considering adding Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day to the town employee holiday list.
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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Jackie Backs says:

    Cynthia, thank you for the good coverage of Grafton news. I am glad to see that your paper is the official online paper of record, which should afford you with many opportunities to gather info, and access sources. CT is a good supplement to The Grafton News, since you can use more space than a paper publication might. Wendy does such a good job with The Grafton News, too, so I am thankful to have these two pubs to glean info from ref my beloved town of Grafton!