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WAKEFIELD, MA-A group of local activists have blocked the development of one of the last few remaining parcels of lakefront property here. The group raised over $1.2 million to develop a park on the site instead.

The activism of the community began when the Beal Companies, a Boston-based real estate firm bought an acre parcel on Lake Quannapowitt from the American Mutual Companies, after the insurance company went bankrupt twelve years ago. Beal wanted to build a building on the site but met with fierce opposition from local activists who formed a political group that began to negotiate with Beal over its plan for the shoreline site.

The group ultimately lost the fight, but they were ready when another lakefront property, around the corner from the Beal site, recently came on the market. Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse Restaurants wanted to buy the site, but in a special town election–that was won by a slim margin–the town voted to purchase the site instead. The town had to use its eminent domain powers–that allows it to take over property from a public landowner in the public interest–which met with some local resistance.

The final price of the property is still being negotiated in the courts, but the town does own the property. State funds and private donations have enabled it to begin the process of developing the site into a park.

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