Robert B. Kimball (Chairman 1964-1969)

Robert Kimball served from 1964 to 1969 as the first chairman of Richmond’s Conservation Commission. During his tenure he oversaw the first ever inventory of natural resources in Richmond, an increase in the number of commissioners from three to seven; the start of the ConCom’s land acquisition fund; the first gifts of land to the ConCom; strong advocacy for tree planting; and the ConCom joining the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC). In 1970, Robert Kimball was elected to the MACC’s board of directors.

During its first year, the commission by unanimous vote of its members, endorsed in principle the objectives of the selectmen and the long-term hopes of many conservation-minded and recreation-mind Richmond residents as commision goals, particularly… preservation of our town’s chief natural characteristics, especially its rural setting of woodlands, wetlands, and meadowlands.Robert Kimball, Chairman, First Annual Report of the Richmond, Massachusetts Conservation Commission
A start has been made with the Berkshire Conservation District in exploring ways to develop a broad natural-resource plan for Richmond. The plan could help show areas where preservation of woodlands, wetlands, watersheds or meadowlands would benefit wildlife and conserve water; the location of land suitable for parks, playgrounds, beaches or other outdoor recreation uses; whether there are tracts on which town-forest programs could produce both resource improvement and revenue; whether there are sites needing protection as valued natural amenities for the community’s future.Robert Kimball, Chairman 1965 Annual Report
Our Commission this year joined the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, and expects to be a permanent member. The dues of $15 a year are by law a proper Town expenditure. Association membership and participation is the only economic way we have found to keep posted on State and Federal conservation law and operations. We propose that one or two Commission members attend at least two of the association’s quarterly meetings, and that the Selectmen find a way to pay for the necessary travel and meals.Robert Kimball, Chairman 1966 Annual Report
Once again, the Commission is asking the Selectmen to declare as permanent, policy that whenever a shade tree of value is for any reason removed from Town property, including road rights-of-way, one nursery tree of approved species be planted somewhere in the community. Also, as before, the Commission favors an appropriation for tree-planting. Neither of these requests was acted upon in 1967″Robert Kimball, Chairman 1967 Annual Report
Richmond’s first major community land-holdings were acquired in 1968 through the generosity of civic-minded residents interested in the work of the Conservation Commission. This fifth annual report of the commission gives formal thanks to these donors on behalf of the Town.
The land gifts highlighted the Commission’s 1968 activity, which also included the start of walking tours to canvass recreation and conservation possibilities, a modest tree-planting program and participation with the School Building Committee in site-selection investigations.
In gifts from Mrs. William S. Anin and Donald B. Miller the Town acquired an estimated 93 3/4 acres “dedicated to the inhabitants of the Town of Richmond” and deeded in trust for natural-resources protection and development under terms of State Conservation statutes.
The Annin gift, … is mostly wet land along Cone Brook within the area south of Sleepy Hollow Road and north of Lenox Road. It is believed to cover about 36 3/4 acres.
Two wooded parcels were given by Mr. Miller. Both are on the slopes of Perry’s Peak. One is listed as 50 1/2 acres; the other, 6 1/2 acres. The smaller parcel turned out to be on the edge of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. right of way. In August, the Selectmen with the consent of the Conservation Commission sold to the company, for $200, an easement covering about a quarter-acre for the additional gas line laid in 1968. The $200 is reserved for the Town Conservation Fund.”Robert Kimball, Chairman 1968 Annual Report



When Robert Frost wrote about those two roads that diverged in a yellow wood, he did not cover the rough, uncleared ground that stood between them. The poet took the one less traveled by, and more conventional souls trudged the better-marked way.

But wouldn’t a few brave ones ignore both and just bushwhack their way down the middle?

It seems as if former Eagle editor Bob Kimball who died last week after a lengthy fight against a crippling stroke was one who took neither of the work ways as he flew through life.

Instead, embarked each day on one of his missions he zigzagged through the trees clear to little brush and otherwise made his own road through the yellow wood.

It was a great privilege to know this man even though it was certainly not always comfortable. Being his friend meant having let him listen, compliment, chat, debate, or entertain, sharing his agile mind and his hospitality. Being his friend also meant getting poked and prodded into going to a meeting, getting out to vote, writing an article, running for office. He insisted that people stand up and be counted just as he was.

But while he often defended stands taken by others, he did not set up safety nets for himself. While others nudged each other or mumbled, “What will neighbors think?” or “Don’t make waves,” Bob plunged ahead seemingly unconcerned about whether he would garner praise for his deeds.

In the community he could be intolerant even irascible about those who had not done their homework. He had done his and expected no less from those who wanted to challenge his thinking.

Month after month, his marathon planning board meetings were an endurance test, but those who could take it understood what a ferocious defender of zoning he was.

In his editorial career he was unbending about the proper use of the phrase or word or the way an ethical issue should be solved. At The Eagle, he could nitpick a story until Reporter was ready to throw the typewriter into the trash and change careers. Or he could zero in with astonishing accuracy on a problem story and in a few moments layout the means for curing its illness.

Whether anyone said “thank you” or “good job” or gave him a pat on the back must have mattered to him. Breathes there a soul anywhere who does not crave a little approbation? But it was not the approval or disapproval of others that motivated Bob.

Bob Kimball did what he did — as editor and his town official — because he believed in it not because he wanted anyone to write a poem about him or award him a plaque.

Undaunted by confrontation — seeming to relish it at times in fact — he could shout growl or wheedle at a town meeting working his way towards winning a point. When his hearing became seriously impaired a number of years ago, it was a great frustration he could no longer receive and accurately answer the back-of-the-hall comments that often embellish small town meetings and hearings.

While he was rarely convinced that a project was finished that perfection had been achieved, he was quick to call when he thought someone else had done well.

And if it was time that a reported needed, he gave over as if dinner were not waiting as if it was a story that would carry his byline as if this was the only thing mattered at the moment.

Inward size and probably some audible ones must have been the first response on many occasions when Bob’s voice would bloom out at the town meeting “Mr. Moderator. . .” Everyone knew a zinging little speech was coming and some would have preferred a neat silence instead.

But Bob did not believe in keeping silent never an easy personality in public he was a slave to himself in private and when he moved to Richmond several years after the original zoning bylaw been passed, he found a kindred spirit in Charles Kusik.

These two determined to keep people thinking ahead to keep revising and updating the towns zoning were visible to everyone as they pushed for their beliefs at meetings.

What is perhaps more important, while much of the town slept, they wrote and read and confirmed on the telephone into the wee hours doing more homework than anyone they agreed on some things scrapped their way through others and remained intrigued by their quest for the town’s safe secure development.

Whatever he did, Bob gave whatever he had. He could not hold back, could not do things halfway. With the problem at hand, he would set out to build the road to a solution. Sometimes, because he was just another one of us humans, he must have been wrong. It’s hard to remember those times because, so often he shook us into our senses and made us think about where we wanted to go and how we could get there.

Most of us are on one of those two roads of Frost’s. But on either side, we will stop to listen when we hear someone thrashing his way through the untried wilderness between. And whether we want to join him or not admire him for it. Ruth Bass, Monday, June 6, 1988


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