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No Name Change For Nickel Brook Conservation Area

Nov 20, 2018 07:28AM ● By Lisa Redmond

DRACUT - Despite an impassioned plea by Varnum Avenue resident Robert McInnis to rename the Nickel Brook Conservation Area after his family, the Board of Selectmen last week rejected the request in favor of keeping the current name due to the area’s ties to the Revolutionary War.

McInnis appeared before the selectmen on Nov. 13, asking to change of the name of the 23.5-acre conservation area to The McInnis-O’Shaughnessy Conservation Area in recognition of all his family has done for the town, state and country. His family has several veterans, including two who lived across the street from the conservation area.

And it wasn’t just for them. McInnis stressed that his family has devoted time and service to the town as a Dracut Public School teacher, a State Police Trooper, Correction Officer, and three generations of the men in his family serving in the military. McInnis also noted his 13 years of coaching children’s softball in town.

McInnis explained the area is misnamed for the former Nickel Mine, which is some distance from this piece of conservation land. McInnis said he had a “big part’’ in getting the town this land for the bargain price of $4,500 with the help of state and federal money.

He described his request as a “simple name change.’’ But others disagreed.

Selectman Tony Archinski said he had a difficult time seeing the connection between this conservation area and the veterans “other than they lived across the street.’’ Typically, conservation areas are named after a resident who was active in land conservation, he said.

During a brief overview of the Nickel Mine Conservation Area, it was explained that back in 1710 it was called the Mine Pit or Mine Pit Hill. In 1726, Joseph Varnum purchased the property and formed a mining company some years later. Around 1751, the area was mined for iron ore which was used to make cannon balls during the Revolutionary War.

In 1876, the area was being mined for nickel. The Dracut Mining Company bought the mine in 1881, but abandoned the mine eight years later with the nickel ran out.

But McInnis stressed that the nickel mine has nothing to do with the conservation area. “The Nickel Mine is the history and this is not the mine,’’ he said.

Archinsky suggested the more appropriate place for these veterans to be honored is naming a traffic square in town after them, rather than a conservation area.

“I don’t think this property is the right way to honor veterans,’’ he said.

He encouraged McInnis to check with the Veterans’ agent and local veterans’ groups for their support for a square naming.

As an alternative, Dracut Town Manager James Duggan suggested replacing the decayed park benches in conservation area with new ones that have markers explaining the contribution made by the McInnis, O’Shaughnessy family.

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