Friday, March 11, 2005
Stewardship Committee oversees ConsCom properties
Three old acquaintances have been claiming Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) attention over the years, and dropped in again at the February 24 ConsCom meeting. These three, the Greenough property, the Old Morse Road crossing and the cranberry bog dam, exemplify ConsCom's stewardship (as opposed to the regulatory) responsibility.
Regulatory and stewardship roles
The ConsCom has historically acted as an interpreter and enforcer of laws governing wetlands, particularly since the Wetland Protection Act became effective. Their regulatory function is seen in permitting, in approval of development sites and in supervision of wetland areas. Over time, ongoing stewardship issues have raised their costly heads.
A steward is defined as "one who superintends another's estate or farm." This is exactly what ConsCom does for the town when it makes legal agreement as with farmers, arranges for public land to be mowed, or issues use permits for gardening plots at Foss Farm. Unfortunately for the town, the safe and reasonable maintenance of conservation property can be financially burdensome: The damn on the Greenough property and the repair of the culvert and crossing at Old Morse Road will cost tens of thousands of dollars. Filling the stewardship responsibility may also require professional services, e.g., an engineering plan for a dam or consultation services necessary to makes useful plans for a building or site.
A Stewardship Committee has been established by ConsCom which "makes sense for Carlisle," according to ConsCom Administrator Sylvia Willard. This small group of residents is knowledgeable about conservation activities in Carlisle. It includes Steve Hinton, Warren Lyman, Greg Peterson, Lynne Knight, Marc Lamere and Conservation Commissioner Roy Watson. The Committee will provide ongoing oversight of conservation property management. The group will meet and will make recommendations to ConsCom. Willard says any specific report on the Stewardship Committee would be premature at this time.
The three old friends
The town-owned Greenough property off Maple Street, including the deteriorating house and barn, became an expensive, insoluble problem for the ConsCom. The commission turned to the Selectmen, who have set up a task force to deal with Greenough issues.
Repair of a collapsed culvert on Old Morse Road trail came before FinCom at its last meeting. The ConsCom has asked the town for $10,000 for the required work on the site, with additional monies anticipated from other sources. (See story on page 1.) Commissioner Tricia Smith said the crossing currently presents a serious public safety issue. The Trails Committee has offered to evaluate the situation, but nothing can be done until the blockages are removed, the flow capacity is reestablished and the area gets de-watered.
Cranberry Bog dam work is being done cooperatively with Chelmsford. With the loss of a Chelmsford contact person, the project is "bogged down." The Stewardship Committee will be asked to report on it.
Also, ConsCom has been working with an attorney on the legal language for the agricultural agreement between the town and its farmers. The attorney was reassigned before ConsCom could vote on the recommended language, and it was unanimously agreed to postpone a vote until Commissioner John Lee has an opportunity to respond to it.
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