An Open Letter to Attorney General Healey Regarding Onset

By OnsetTogether | Jul 18, 2018

Dear Ms Healey,

It is quite clear that you have ignored all of the fine details of our complaints proving that what the Town of Wareham and the Buzzard's Bay Coalition did was illegal. You appear to be concentrating on a bath house when the main complaint concerns the leasing of a portion of land dedicated to the public via the Massachusetts Supreme Court.


By allowing the Buzzard's Bay Coalition to lease any part of our dedicated land you are allowing the eventual takeover of our parks, bluffs and seashore. You are setting a precedent which will allow the private use of all of the dedicated land in the state. The law clearly states that this cannot be done. Dedicated land cannot be given way in bits and pieces. We do not pretend to be lawyers but the law regarding dedicated land is clearly spelled out in Dunphy vs the Commonwealth et al, which you are ignoring.

In 2017 David Warr, the man claiming to be the heir to the dedicated land in Onset, revitalized the name of a corporation called the Onset Bay Grove Association in order to find a means of allowing the town to fraudulently lease part of the land to the Buzzard's Bay Coalition, of which he is a member. In 1920 his grandfather William Warr bought 91 shares of the OBGA. Five years after the land was taken from that corporation and given to the public, via the court, and three years after the town accepted the dedication.

David Warr's family never owned one inch of the land in question and even if that had been the case, the land is dedicated to the public and cannot be "sold, leased, transferred or conveyed." If you had read Attorney General vs the Onset Bay Grove Association you would have known that. We have explained everything to your assistant Jillian Riley via numerous Emails and documents which your office has obviously chosen to set aside in preference to those of the politicians, the town and the BBC.

Had the legislature studied the documents presented to it by Rep. Gifford and Sen. Pacheco as it should have, Bill S.1152 would never have passed, as the legislature has no authority over dedicated land. According to the law we read it would have been considered an invalid bill. Correct me if I'm wrong.

By your refusal to become involved you are making it clear that, in your eyes, the cases of Attorney General vs the Onset Bay Grove Association as well as Dunphy vs the Commonwealth are no longer of any value, although they are constantly used in cases where dedicated land is involved. That what is being allowed in Onset can now be allowed throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. That anyone claiming to be an heir to dedicated land can allow it to be leased to whomever he or she may choose. That our forty plus acres of seashore, parks and bluffs no longer belong to the public, but to a man who has absolutely no right to them. That the land in Rockland, MA, mentioned in Dunphy can now be used as a skating rink instead of a park for which it was dedicated.

By your refusal to act on the public's behalf you are setting a precedent which will have far reaching implications and will open all of the State's dedicated land to developers. Your suggestion that we hire an attorney is your way of wiping your hands of us instead of upholding the law, as is your duty.

We're a group of average citizens who are trying to prevent our beaches, bluffs and parks from being taken over by a private organization. They have been dedicated to the public for over one hundred years, and now because of your decision not to intervene, they will be lost to us.

What is happening here in Onset is a disgrace and a violation of every law designed to protect the public from land grabs such as this. If you have not been made aware of our complaints than I must apologize for my remarks. But if you have been made aware and have chosen to side with big money and politics then you no longer represent those who voted for you.

Marilyn Knowlton

Addendum: This is a story of how land dedicated to the public was taken from the public and privatized. It's also the story of big business and politics. A prime example of why the average person doesn't have a chance against the powers that be. While promising the public so much, the Buzzards Bay Coalition has gained control of forty plus acres of land dedicated to the public. All with the help of local and state politicians. The people of Wareham have no idea what they've lost but they will if they end up paying to use what has always been free. The BOS would like the public to believe that a few of us looked upon their actions as "suspicious" and that we were trying to thwart "something that is going to benefit everybody, and on a grand scale." Well if their actions aren't suspicious then let them hold an open meeting and contradict the remarks made to Maura Healey. If what they did was legal, let them prove it to the public, not hide their criticisms on page All of the Wareham Courier. -Marilyn Knowlton

Comments (7)
Posted by: Peaches0409 | Jul 19, 2018 11:01

All the Buzzards Bay Coalition is doing is trying to improve the area. Nobody is giving away anything. Leave it alone.

Posted by: greycat | Jul 19, 2018 19:53

As I read it, the lease is for an EXISTING BUILDING, no the dirt on which it sits.  Not the same thing.  The bath house was and will continue to be used to facilitate the use of the beaches and parks and waters of Onset Bay, perhaps educating a generation of children on the value of the beaches and bay.

Last time I checked the Attorney General does not have the authority to negate or disallow or in any other way interfere or nullify an act of the Legislature.  That is for the legislature or the courts.

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is hardly grabbing any land!  They are merely making a good thing better.


Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jul 19, 2018 22:52

Why does this surprise anyone?  There were no repercussions when public streets in Onset were recently taken for private parking to benefit a select few.


The attorney general is interested in running for governor one day.  This is not the kind of headline-grabbing issue that will help her achieve that goal.  You're on your own.  Good luck.


Posted by: Theresa ONeill | Jul 20, 2018 05:53

What streets were taken for private parking?

Posted by: sadie | Jul 20, 2018 07:28

I think she's talking about the streets in Onset that require a resident parking sticker. A sticker that residents pay for because during the summer months people who are going to the beach take up all the parking so that people who live there can't find a place to park in front of or even near their homes.


Posted by: bruce gannon | Jul 20, 2018 13:37

OAT … you're so off base, just stop trying to agitate for the sake of agitation. There is no intention of making land inaccessible to the public. The plans when complete will enhance the quality of life in the area providing recreational and education opportunity for Wareham and Onset youth.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jul 21, 2018 11:32

Greycat obviously did not read the lease, which is here nor look at the plans filed with the Registry of Deeds. The lease includes the beach and the bluffs, not just the existing structure. The lease requires the BOS to approve any sub-lease, such as the current kayak company. They also did not bother with a license to operate on Onset Beach this year, last year they paid $200 for every 30 days. Fact. So Wareham is giving away $300 a month and allowing unlicensed operation.  And so it begins...

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