Hale Education's Changed Strategies on Conservation Restriction Favors CR in Dover with Private Donations (Updated)


Photo by Westwood Minute/Darlene Wong Cancell. Current structures at Hale blend into the natural environment like this Hale Day Camp office, but without a conservation restriction, Hale's land could feature development with larger, noticeable structures.

Following the news that Hale Education (Hale) has ended its attempt to partner with Westwood and Dover in seeking conservation restrictions to protect its land from development in the two towns, Hale explains its changed course as being due to its internal timeline, along with town involvement presenting issues of competing priorities and legal complexities.

In a statement to Westwood Minute, a Hale representative commented, “While we have earnestly sought municipal support from both Westwood and Dover since this conservation effort began in 2019, we can no longer wait for that participation to materialize. Our board and executive leadership are committed to closing the Campaign for Kids, Conservation, and Community by June 30. This is an opportunity to complete one of the largest conservation projects in Greater Boston in more than a century, and we sincerely hope community members will step in to help us achieve that historic goal.”

It was over four years ago that Hale initially proposed that the towns of Westwood and Dover participate in its goal of protecting its land from development by each town purchasing a conservation restriction at the cost of $10 million each. Now, in 2024, with neither town having been able to bring Hale’s proposal to their respective residents for a vote at a town meeting, Hale has decided to move on.

As of Tuesday, April 2nd, Hale has revised its website’s communications regarding its conservation restriction strategy by removing references to the previously hoped for partnerships with Westwood and Dover. Instead, it states that its partners in the effort to move forward continue to be The Trustees of Reservations, Westwood Land Trust, and the Dover Land Conservation Trust. "Due to competing projects and legal complexities, the towns were unable to participate within the timeline for completing the campaign," states Hale's website.

While Hale still appears to be pursuing a conservation restriction, and a representative states that Hale intends to protect as much of its land as possible from development, Hale may appear to favor protecting its Dover property, while laying the risk of future development upon its land in Westwood.

For example, in FAQs regarding Hale’s future plans for facility improvements, Hale's web page on April 2nd stated, “The proposed Conservation Restriction (CR) has strict, specific building limits for property in Dover. Only small, designated areas can be used for construction, and the CR ensures that 99% of the land in Dover will be building-free forever. Height and building size restrictions apply to the small portion of that land that can be developed. There will be no such restrictions on Hale’s future growth on land in Westwood.”

However, on April 3rd, in response to the initial publication of this article, Hale has modified that section of its FAQs. The above quoted language has been deleted and replaced with the new statement (among others) that "Only small, designated areas can be used for construction, and the CR ensures that the vast majority of the property will be building-free forever." 

In addition to the apparent narrowing of scope of the initially proposed conservation restriction, Hale’s revised strategy relies now not upon municipal contributions but upon on private donations. It hopes to raise $7.7 million by June 30, 2024.

Hale has indicated that after June 30th, it will need to direct its resources away from a conservation restriction and instead focus on the search for a new executive director. Hale’s current executive director, Eric Arnold, steps away from that position this summer.

Updated 4/3/2024 at 11:38 p.m. Information has been added reporting on the April 3rd revisions to Hale's website. Thanks to Hale Education for informing Westwood Minute of this development.

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