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Monday, April 28, 2008

Volunteer coalition watches over Milford’s open space

By James Tinley
Register Staff
— City environmentalists are impressed with the hundreds of acres of open space Milford has purchased and kept free of development over the years.
But with those hundreds of acres of open space, and no open space manager, a coalition of volunteers has formed to help monitor and keep the city’s open space clean.
The idea behind the Milford Open Space Volunteer Stewardship Program is to share the work it takes to keep tabs on the open space, said Barbara Milton, one the group’s leaders. Each of the 26 members has a map that divides the city into the five voting districts and about 12 other sub-districts. Each member is responsible for keeping tack of the open space that is near their homes.
“It shouldn’t fall on one person all the time,” said Ann Berman, the Environmental Concerns Coalition chairwoman. “It’s a great idea to get everyone organized.”
Milton said she approached the mayor about an open space manager, but given the city’s tight budget, this position is not a priority for funding.
“As a result, our open space has suffered from vandalism, dumping, erosion, vagrancy, invasive species as well as destruction by animals and people,” Milton said. “Although state laws have been put in effect requiring human offenders to pay sizable damages, Milford can still use stewards to help protect and maintain the land.”
She added that the city has been very responsive to most requests, but the city’s “resources are small.”
Police Chief Keith Mello has designated an officer to act as a liaison to help address persistent violations of city laws occurring in areas designated as open space, Milton said. He also sent letters to property owners surrounding the large tract of open space known as the Solomon Property that helped curb people driving dirt bikes and other all-terrain vehicles.
Milton said the enforcement works, but requires continued vigilance by people like her “open space stewards” and police.
The group of “open space stewards” is looking for more volunteers, Milton said. She can be reached at
James Tinley can be reached at, or 401-3530.


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