Friday, February 27, 2004
ConsCom gets some good news and some bad news
The good news came first at the Conservation Commission's regular meeting on February 12: the agenda included discussions with three men who have farming agreements with the town, an RDA (Request for Determination of Applicability), and the always-supportive Pony Club with a request for renewal of their riding ring permits at Foss Farm.
New projects for Fox Hill land
Dick Shohet, who takes care of the Fox Hill Land proposed two new projects for that property. One was to cut back to the stone walls on the property, which would get rid of the brush and also improve the vista of town conservation land. This was generally agreed to be a good idea. Shohet suggested that volunteers be recruited to help cut down the trees in front of the stone wall at the rear of the property, and in return receive a truckload of firewood for their efforts, offering to deliver the wood in his truck. Since trees are best cut around the end of March, ConsCom planned a site visit on February 21 so Shohet would have time to gather volunteers. Shohet does an annual hay cutting of the property in the spring because grass has its highest protein content in mid-May and he clips the field as needed during the summer.
The Bisbee open fields on Concord Street are mowed by George Frazier, who claims he cut between the rains last year, as often as needed to keep the vista clear and plans to do the same this year. John Valentine, whose herd of cows is visible at Acton and West Streets, grows alfalfa on the land he farms (Hutchins/Robbins field on Curve Street). He said "The field is perfect for alfalfa. I really appreciate the use of it." ConsCom will continue their discussion of farming agreements at their next meeting.
Pony Club request renewal of Foss Farm riding permit
Pony Club representatives Molly Springer and Cindy Craft claimed last year's riding program was so popular they want to do it again. They requested a permit to use Foss Farm riding ring on Sunday, May 2, for a special event and for further programs on Friday afternoons from 4 to 7 p.m. from April 30 to July 3, with four jumpers' nights. Parking posed the only problem for ConsCom. Springer stated that volunteers and spectators use the upper parking lot and since events are staggered for different times, not everyone comes at once. Both Springer and Craft thought the maximum numbers of vehicles would be about 20 or 25. They added that the police department said it would be unnecessary to have a detail and agreed to post an "entering" traffic sign on Bedford Road. The permits were approved
Louise Hara, representing the Trails Committee, and ConsCom's Tricia Smith discussed the recurrent and ubiquitous problems of brush clearing and buckthorn containment at Foss Farm. Hara has some estimates for the work; Springer had two cans of organic spray paint to mark the area to be cleared, and Gary Davis had offered to haul off the brush. Hara thought it might be easy to pull up the buckthorn because Foss Field has sandy soil. Smith thought they could mow more frequently if they got the buckthorn pushed pack. The grass that was seeded last year perished in an early snow and Hara plans to reseed the area.
The single regulatory action before the committee was a RDA (Request for Determination) by Preston Holleman of Shady Brook Lane who was accompanied by a Stamski and McNary engineer. Holleman is repairing a failing subsurface septic system, a small part of which lies in the buffer zone of a bordering vegetated wetlands and thus requires ConsCom approval, which was given with a request to note erosion control measures on the plan. When asked about the wildlife he sees on his land, Holleman told an envious commission there are deer, otters, beavers, foxes, coyotes, fishers and wild turkeys as well as birds that come to his pond in the spring, and a heron that comes around April 15 and stays until snow.
Greenough Land management raises funding issues
The Greenough cottage and barn has a list of repairs that is greater than the money available to accomplish them, according to commissioner Smith, and the Greenough dam repair has an engineer's estimate of around $85,000, with a $93,000 figure designed for escalation. The cottage, in addition to repairs, has both asbestos and deleading problems. ConsCom has hoped that Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds might be available for the work needed, and asked former commissioner Steve Hinton, formerly of the Greenough subcommittee and now a member of Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF), to discuss the possibility of obtaining CPA funding for the Greenough Land repairs. It was Hinton who gave them the bad news that restrictions to the CPA would make it unlikely that Greenough's issues could be resolved with the Act's help.
April 25 was set as the date for ConsCom's annual vernal pool walk; the site will be announced. ConsCom also has named Steve Spang to the Open Space and Recreation (OS&R) Committee. An OS&R plan must be updated every five years to comply with state regulations.
© 2004 The