Friday, July 27, 2001
An embarrassed DEM to fund Great Brook Farm renovation
The Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) got its first look at the engineering and landscaping plans that will guide the million-dollar face-lift scheduled to begin this fall at Great Brook Farm State Park. It was the embarrassing recognition of violations of its own environmental regulations at the park that loosened the purse strings at the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Therefore, the primary objective of the project is to correct out-of-control drainage and siltation problems in the area of the duck pond.
Protecting the duck pond
Armed with pictures of the inadequate parking lot a mere 60 level feet from the pond and the deeply-sculpted "Carlisle Canyons" that carry silt-laden water from two watersheds above into the diminishing lakelet, the design team from EMG Associates had no problem framing their challenges before the commission. To prevent untreated water off the parking area from being dumped directly into the pond, the present lot will be converted to lawn and a new compacted gravel replacement lot will be built 289 feet away in what is now cornfield. To hold the soil and water in the conceptual "bowl" above the pond, the designers will create what engineer Andrew Leonard described as a "plant palette." The landscaping will start at the upper level with spaced groups of "grand trees," followed down the slope by an area of bushes and ground cover and terminating in lawn or meadow as one approaches the pond.
To preserve the water's edge, activity on the bank will be discouraged by means of a 20-foot buffer of indigenous plants. The same barrier will offer protection from sheet flow off the expanses of lawn. The plants will consist of "99 percent indigenous perennials and 100 percent non-invasives."
Recognizing that Old North Road currently acts as "a funnel" for water carrying silt to the pond, the engineers will create two breaks to reduce the velocity of the flow. Leonard noted that the DEM is assessing the health of the pond itself and will develop recommendations for any corrective measures deemed necessary. They have also agreed to create a maintenance plan for present and future plantings.
Display areas and more
As has already been reported by park superintendent Ray Faucher, the ice cream stand and farm buildings will remain in place. On the knoll across from the barn, there will be an open-air pavilion containing the naturalists' office, a kiosk, display areas and full bathroom facilities that can be heated year round. It's noteworthy that the water and septic systems fall under the jurisdiction of the state and need not concern local boards.
All construction will remain in the family-oriented section that includes the pond, ice cream stand, farm buildings, educational facilities and picnic areas. The trails and wilder hinterlands will not be affected.
Farmer Mark Duffy's loss of cornfield acreage will be made up by addition of an area now piled high with loam preserved from past construction, and his deficit will be a mere one quarter acre.
Commission members were clearly impressed with the presentation and seconded commissioner John Lee's pronouncement that what they had been shown was really complete and had their general approval. "What do you need from us tonight?" was his next question. When the presenters replied that EMG would like an approved Order of Conditions from the commission to accompany their bid specifications to prospective contractors, vice-chair Christine Gaulden offered to give them the ConsCom's "boiler plate" conditions for that purpose, but explained that final approval and conditioning would require a step-by-step construction schedule, accompanied by precise engineering specifications. Therefore, it was agreed to have a four-week continuance of the hearing.
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