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Lachat Farm Fans Rally for Support in Weston

In her ideal world, Margaret Lachat would want her late husband's land to not be divided and for the farmhouse to be fixed up and maintained in "pristine condition."

Margaret has set out on a mission to save Leon's property in Weston. She started a Facebook Group : Lachat Farm Friends – Save the Farm, which provides the documents signed by Leon in the agreement with the town and the Nature Conservancy.

"I find it hard to believe that there is a critical issue and [town officials] haven't read the documents," said Margaret. "It's spelled out in the documents. Leon wanted his beautiful property to be enjoyed by the people of Weston forever."

The agreement, signed in 1997 by Leon Lachat, the current first selectman and the vice president of the Nature Conservancy, states that the property was to be converted into a center for conservation education and research and "serve as the main visitors' center and entrance to the Preserve and 32-acre parcel."

Margaret said the Nature Conservancy wanted to make the property profitable with a large welcome center where visitors could donate money and see the property. In 2008, the town voted down this idea.

On the Lachat Farm Friends' Facebook site, Margaret posted, "The Town Of Weston did not like the 'larger' ideas of The Nature Conservancy, so it voted them down. The Nature Conservancy now wants to take part of the property and half 'endowment' money that Leon slated for repair and maintenance for the property for future generations because it is angry that it couldn't do what it wanted to do."

The Board of Selectmen met in executive session May 5 to discuss a separation agreement with the Nature Conservancy. First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said the endowment money has been spent on appropriate uses and will not be spent to buy out the property. She said that as long as both parties agree, the agreement can be amended.

The Weston Commission for the Arts met May 13, when the treasurer made a formal proposal that the commission prepare a proposal for the selectmen to create a Lachat Cultural Center . Keith Brooks, a member of the commission, said the proposal will be given to the selectmen within 30 days.

"It incorporates the ideas of surrounding cultural centers like Carriage Barn, Weir Farm and Tanglewood. Tanglewood is a good model — it started out the same way. The owner of a cottage died and willed the property to the Boston Symphony," said Brooks. "We're interested in producing a revenue-producing enterprise there."

Carol Baldwin recently began hanging signs up at places such as the Lunch Box encouraging residents to "Save Lachat Farm" and join with the Green Village Initiative to help secure funds to restore the house. At the May 5 meeting, Baldwin was given 30 days to present a plan to the Board of Selectmen.

What do you think should be done at Lachat Farm? Leave a comment below.

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