Posted on behalf of Richard Hewitt, Groton Massachusetts resident
Almost 40 years ago, my wife-to-be Diane and I drove through Central Massachusetts on our way from Cambridge, MA to Antioch Graduate School in Keene, NH. We were captivated by the rural beauty of the area and the picture postcard classic New England town of Groton, in particular. I always fantasized about building my own home and when I received a small inheritance, I decided to go for it. Groton was the first place we looked for a piece of land.
After about half a year of searching, we found a beautiful spot in the woods not far from the Nashua River. After purchasing the land we bought a pick-up truck, chain saw and power tools, in that order, and began to clear the heavily forested land. Along with the help of a good friend and occasional contributions from friends and family, we built a beautiful, energy-efficient house in which we still live happily today. We took great pride in designing the house to fit the land, as opposed to the usual practice of clearing and leveling the land to fit the house. We left standing as many trees as possible and designed the home for maximum solar benefit. After many trials and tribulations and much sweat equity, we finished the house enough to move in. My wife and I married and spent the next year of weekends finishing off countless “odds and ends”.
We have lived our entire married life in this home and on this land. Our two sons spent their entire childhoods here and in the surrounding woods. We consider this far more than a house – it’s our home, our only home, the only one our family has ever known. This is our homestead and we hoped it would be our legacy to leave to our children. Now, suddenly, everything is threatened by the coming of this large-scale, high-pressure gas pipeline within feet of our house. It’s hard to comprehend how this is possible in America. How can the federal government grant a company the power of eminent domain to take our land? And it’s not just our land. Land that we gave to the local Conservation Trust, to add insult to injury, is also being taken, along with a local state park. This is an environmental outrage that all New England electric rate payers will have to pay for through a special tariff for decades to come. How is this possible?
As troubling as this project is on the intellectual level, it is even more devastating on an emotional level. Having recently retired and paid off our mortgage, we were looking forward to a few “golden years:” gardening, maintaining the forested areas, and making improvements to the house. Now, it feels as though we have been the victim of a lightening strike out of the clear blue; the home that we worked so hard for could be destroyed at the whim of a distant corporation.
We have been pretty good about taking one day at a time, focusing on small tasks, and generally “staying calm and carrying on.” Still, every so often you just become overwhelmed with sadness and rage. I dread the closing days if the worst were to come to pass, but I am sustained by the small, daily successes of our grassroots activist group and the support of conservation organizations, homeowners, and local leaders. This is a long battle and the final outcome is not known yet. There is always hope!