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Jackson officials propose creation of Rova Farms Advisory Board

JACKSON – The members of the Jackson Township Council will hold a public hearing Feb. 8 on an ordinance that, if adopted, will establish the Rova Farms Advisory Board.

Township Council President Martin Flemming, Vice President Andrew Kern, Councilman Alexander Sauickie and Councilman Nino Borrelli voted “yes” on a motion to introduce the ordinance on Jan. 11. Councilman Stephen Chisholm was absent.

Sauickie said the ordinance will establish a subcommittee to be known as the Rova Farms Advisory Board.

“When the council moved to purchase the (Rova Farms) property in 2019, Councilman Kern and I … recognized this was a property that meant a lot to the town. It has a lot of history and it certainly got a very positive response when we announced we were going to preserve that land on behalf of residents,” Sauickie said.

The councilman said the advisory board will allow residents to help decide the future use of the Rova Farms property in the Cassville section of Jackson.

“I asked that (the advisory board) include a person with a career in education, namely a teacher in town; a person with historical perspective or experience, because we believe there is a ton of history (at Rova Farms) and whatever it becomes, we felt from the beginning that its history needed to be maintained and explained, maybe in an educational way,” Sauickie said.

According to the ordinance, the Rova Farms Advisory Board will assist and advise Jackson officials in implementing and planning the future use and development of the Rova Farms properties that have been purchased and/or may be obtained in the future.

The advisory board will have up to 10 members appointed by the council and will include a person with a career in education; a person with an historical perspective or experience; a member of the Going Green Committee; and a member of the Jackson Pathfinders. All of the members must live in Jackson.

Rova Farms dates to the early 20th century when an initial wave of Russian immigrants to the area purchased 1,400 acres in 1934.

The Russian Consolidated Aid Society of America paid $50,000 for the land and the money was collected from thousands of Russians who were coming to America, according to a Washington Post article published Feb. 6, 1977.

Two Russian Orthodox churches were built at the site and children were taught to speak Russian as the immigrants sought to keep the culture of their homeland alive.

The people associated with Rova Farms were working-class individuals, primarily craftsmen and laborers, according to the Washington Post article.

In 2019, Jackson officials purchased 34 acres for $600,000 at 120 Cassville Road. The land was previously connected to the Rova Farms property. Municipal officials said the land was purchased for preservation purposes.

Members of the public will have a chance to comment on the proposed Rova Farms Advisory Board ordinance on Feb. 8.

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