Thursday, March 19, 2015

Eminent Domain

Eminent domain The power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property.

Ted Tarr initiated the campaign for public taking of Dr. Richard Webster's property at Halibut Point for creation of a State park. The petition and adjudication proceedings went on during the 1960s and '70s. Ted offered these recollections during our interview on September 30, 2013.
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After the Town voted to ask the State to acquire Halibut Point as park land, our State Representative Dick Silva (Democrat) submitted the bill, but he couldn't push it through. The Websters were willing to sell, after a while, for the right price.
When  our State Senator Bill Saltonstall (Republican) was about to retire, they asked him what he wanted as a going-away present, and Bill said "Halibut Point State Park." So this was going to be his legacy.
Halibut Point aerial photo
Courtesy of the Webster family
At that point Dukakis (Democrat) was governor. Some of his friends wanted to buy it and build 270 condominiums around the quarry. So he wouldn't sign the taking papers. Then Ed King (Republican) came along. I had gotten to know him a little bit through Lloyd Waring [a prominent Rockport Republican], and a few other people, Young Republicans. We were reasonable in those days.

Ed became governor, which scared the hell out of me because he was from Massport, and I was thinking "Bulldozer King." It turned out he was a great conservationist. I was having lunch with him at Lloyd Waring's, because they were political friends. I finally said, "Governor, I want Halibut Point, because the taking papers are going to expire in a month. You've got to do it right now. No further delays.
Governor Ed King with Selectmen Ted Tarr and Nick Barletta
Photos: Halibut Point State Park files
He came down here on a terrible day to sign the taking papers. Landed down there at the Pier in a helicopter. It was windy. They almost crashed. We got him up here to the side of the pit--it was blowing a gale--and signed the papers. He said, "Alright, Ted, why the hell'd you get me down here on a day like this?" I said, "That's for voting for the Bottle Bill." He said, "Don't you ever forgive? I don't forgive, either." He was a heck of a nice guy.

Governor Ed King and Selectman Ted Tarr
So that's how Halibut Point got started. The Park had an Advisory Committee. I'm the last one of that. Now we have the Friends of Halibut Point. The State Advisory Committee is kaput.

Once the State had somebody from some agency come down, who decided they wanted us to fence off the ocean so people wouldn't fall into it. I said, as soon as you put a roof over Quabbin Reservoir, we'll put a fence around the ocean. They went away, finally, and we've never seen them again.
What I'm afraid of right now is that the State is underfunding the parks. They've cut the budgets every year. We're now a subsidiary of Salisbury Beach. The permanent staff is gone. So I'm going to start getting busy and get the parks together and start another organization, get some publicity and get some more money for the parks.

I've gotten the Waring Preserve in the South End. I've gotten Thacher's Island. My friend John Kieran, we have his preserve too, which I finally cleaned up the other day. I just like open space. I think the public does too.
Ted Tarr


  1. Thank you, Martin Ray, for researching and writing about this significant event, and thanks to all those who worked to make Halibut Point a place we could all enjoy.

  2. I love to hear these kind of stories. When citizens do not depend on government and actually just get stuff done themselves. Our national parks are such treasures and I though we were all forgetting that. This is comforting knowing that there are a few passionate ones around. I hope government soon realizes that need for funding our national parks.

    Daniel Roberson @ Mark Bentley PA