Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 11, 2012

Alice Buck, Harold Rafton: Two lives, one mission


Seemingly overnight, the town was facing unprecedented growth opportunities from both rapid residential construction and expanding rings of industrial employment zones and office parks. Large land holdings once devoted to farming were quickly coming on the market to meet the demand for the exploding residential population. Town officials were working diligently to codify zoning bylaws to meet the rapidly changing circumstances. A somewhat “sleepy academic town” was becoming a bedroom community of choice for a greater Boston workforce that chose to live away from the place of their employment.

Locally there were voices being raised to participate fully in this economic development awakening. One local business executive wrote a rather impassioned plea in a letter to the newspaper editor supporting these changes. Harold Rafton read that letter and had quite a different reaction. His immediate response was to write an equally impassioned letter to that editor speaking out for preserving some of that which made the town of Andover unique and highly desirable – the green space that everyone took for granted.

Alice Buck and Harold Rafton shared a common conviction and saw this through with uncommon passion. Each in their own time shared the conviction that a special feature of our town was worth preserving. It was only the means that differed. Buck saw Indian Ridge as a health-enabling and geologically-significant formation that cried out for saving from destruction. Rafton saw the “march of residential development” as a permanent loss in the open space that itself made Andover such an attractive place to live.

Buck mounted an aggressive campaign of small fundraisers to enable the purchase of the land and to keep the issue squarely in the public eye. When town meeting failed to act to save this land, she redoubled her efforts and applied public pressure to produce the desired result.

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