Q. Why do you want to save this golf course from becoming a 312-unit housing development?
A. This is the only large (40 acres) greenspace left in all of Hyannis, and is next to a critical coastal ecosystem that works to provide climate mitigation, water quality, human health, and wildlife habitat.
2. Q. Are you against more housing in Hyannis?
A. No. Hyannis needs more housing, especially workforce housing people can afford. But this project is not affordable housing—only 13% of units will be offered at some discount from the market rates that people are struggling to pay. We also believe this environmentally sensitive location is not appropriate for large-scale development—and once built upon, it is gone forever. There are plenty of unused shopping centers, parking lots, and other non-green areas where appropriately scaled housing can be located.
3. Q. Isn‘t this already developed land?
A. Twin Brooks is classified as “open space” and contains “Natural Areas” on Cape Cod Commission maps, and should be preserved that way. Some (though not all) of this land has been used as a golf course, and thus might meet some bureaucratic definition of “developed”—just as school ball fields or cemeteries would. But don’t be confused by labels: there’s a difference between open green space that humans may have used, and parking lots, shopping malls, and other commercial uses that have acres of buildings and paved areas. Build on the latter, not the former.
4. Q. How will you pay for the land?
A. We are working with local government and land trusts to find possible federal and state grants, and private donors. Possibilities are Mass Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND), Mass. Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC), Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, Federal Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants (FEMA), donations from local land trusts, wildlife organizations, individuals, friends, and neighbors.
5. Q. How much will it cost to buy the land?
A. The seller’s asking price is not yet known. Current assessed value is approximately $3,679,000.
6. Q. Who will own the future conservation area?
A. It is not known yet, but perhaps a private land trust, wildlife organization, or a combination of funding sources.
7. Q. Who will run the operations?
A. Not known yet, but perhaps a local land trust, wildlife organization, or combination. There are programs to augment staff like AmeriCorps, TerraCorps, and internships. Volunteers are always essential through dedicated “Friends,” corporate sponsors, civic groups like Lions and Elks, and United Way just for example.
8. Q. How will you ensure safety and security for visitors of the green space?
A. Security patrols, cameras, fencing, and restricted access points are all essential for safety of visitors, infrastructure, and wildlife. The park will be closed and locked after dark except for approved events. There is widespread precedent for security on hundreds of parcels owned by Mass Audubon, local land trusts, and large trusts such as the Trustees for Reservations.
9. Q. Why is this golf course good wildlife habitat?
A. This open space is rife with resident biodiversity. It embodies “edge habitat” for raptors. There are wooded islands adjacent to open areas; sand traps that can be planted with native shrubs and pollinator flowers; swaths of fairway which can be converted to nesting grasslands; multiple ponds for turtles and amphibian breeding habitat; aquatic bird habitat; fresh water for mammals; Joshua’s Creek and Stewart’s Creeks are travel corridors for mammals and turtles; all adjacent to a salt marsh estuary. We envision exclusively “NOFA” organic operations banning pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers to protect wetlands and water supply.
10. Q. Will this open space be good for the economy and tourism?
A. Home values increase in communities with nearby, accessible parklands and open space. Tourism is the main driver of the Cape Cod economy. Investing in parks, natural areas, and working lands support jobs in the tourist, outdoor recreation, agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries. Ferry boats bring thousands of seasonal tourists to the Cape and Islands, bolstering our dependence on a healthy ocean. Wildlife viewing and trails attract visitors and support local businesses, especially the adjacent conference center.
11. Q. How will preserving the golf course protect our drinking water?
A. When natural lands are developed, their permeable surfaces are replaced by impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs and parking lots. This increases stormwater runoff and is one of urbanization’s most significant negative impacts to natural water systems. However, undeveloped, porous terrain allows rainwater and snowmelt to slowly absorb into the ground rather than run off the surface directly into streams and wetlands. This allows for groundwater supplies to be recharged and for the slow release of rainwater into water bodies. Stored water is then available later in the year and during periods of dry weather, which benefits fisheries and water quality. One of Hyannis wellheads is only 0.5 miles away from Twin Brooks and Twin Brooks is in a drinking water district. We envision NOFA organic operations onsite, without pesticides or herbicides to infiltrate groundwater.
12.Q. How does saving the golf course as open space improve climate change resiliency?
A. Coastal wetlands saved $625 million in flooding damages from Hurricane Sandy by accommodating storm surge. Salt marshes are valuable carbon sinks. Higher average temperatures occur as climate change worsens. Replacing open space with more rooftops and pavement is a poor and dangerous use of the 40-acre Twin Brooks golf course due to the existing urban heat in Hyannis. Open space allows for trees, gardens, and soils to filter pollution and carbon dioxide from the air.
13. Q. Will the new open space be FREE and open to all visitors?
A. That depends on who will own the property. Possible scenarios are funding and grants to keep admission minimal. Perhaps annual memberships will be possible, supported by donations for underserved, historically excluded populations.
14. Q. What kinds of activities will be offered in this protected open space?
A. Our vision is for the land to be divided into sections. The northern 13 acres will include permanent, handicap accessible infrastructure like restrooms and a nature center. The entire property will have trails, scattered existing wildlife ponds, some portions of mowed lawn, and educational wildlife panels. The southernmost portion will be for enhanced wildlife habitat, grassland/meadows, educational nature panels, and protected flood zones for stormwater capacity. A nature lover’s dream.
15. Q. Will the land be protected open space forever?
A. Yes. Our vision is that the property will be open to all, protected in perpetuity with a conservation and/or agricultural preservation restriction.
16. Q. How do parks improve public health?
A. Access to quality green space, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, allows for fresh air and exercise. Because marginalized populations are disproportionately affected by climate change issues and solutions, it is these citizens who will bear the brunt of our failure to protect this vital parcel of land.
17. Q. How will this greenspace advance and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the community?
A. It will benefit marginalized communities by providing greenspace to adjacent Environmental Justice neighborhoods. The Cape Cod Commission Climate Action Plan lists “economic equity, environmental justice, equitable dispensation of mitigating resources, [and] equitable distribution of climate impacts” among its priorities in addressing equity, and Barnstable is a superlative community in which to make real headway.
18. Q. What kinds of wildlife will live on the land?
A. Coastal habitats in Massachusetts are home to 132 species of the greatest conservation need which have all declined significantly in New England over the last 50 years. According to the 2018 Barnstable Open Space and Recreation Plan, “the spread of roadways and subdivisions has reduced and greatly fragmented the habitat of many native wildlife species…There are twenty-nine MESA [Massachusetts Endangered Species Act]-listed animal species in Barnstable. MassAudubon conducts its coastal waterbird program on two nearby beaches.
19. Q. Can I bring my dog?
A. Unknown. That depends on who is able to purchase and ultimately own the land. Rare species inventories, not possible without permission from the landowner, will need to be conducted. Understanding potential impacts might determine whether dogs would have adverse impacts or not.
20. Q. Can I ride my bike on the trails?
A. Unknown. See Question 19. Riding bikes to Twin Brooks as a destination will be encouraged, especially with the enhanced Hyannis Streetscape improvements, which includes wide, paved pathways.
21. Q. Will the park be closed at night?
A. It’s likely the park will be closed at night for safety, except for permitted, night programming like nature walks, owl prowls, astronomy and star gazing.
21. Q. How can the public get involved?
A. Visit savetwinbrooks.org and email us firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
We envision a “Friends of Twin Brooks Park” after the land is acquired, which everyone can join. Volunteers can participate in programs, fundraise, and advocate to support all aspects of the property.