Friday, June 15, 2007
ConsCom approves two projects near State Park wetlands
The Conservation Commission (ConsCom) has approved two projects of interest to local hikers, bikers and skiers who frequent Great Brook Farm State Park (GBFSP) - yes, even state agencies have to get a favorable nod from the town's environmental watchdogs whenever our waterways are involved. The first Notice of Intent (NOI) filed at the June 7 meeting covered installation of a 100-foot long boardwalk and bridge at the canoe launch on North Road, while the second called for repair of the old road off Lowell Street by the intersection with North Road.
near canoe launch
Joseph Halloran from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation explained that the walkway would permit the public to avoid walking on North Road and would facilitate restoration of abandoned trails once favored by hikers and equestrians. Taking over for the structural descriptions, Engineer Peter Williams of Pine Associates said the walkway would run parallel to the stone dam and connect the Pine Point Loop trail with the launch site. He described the structure as a simple eight-foot wide lumber walkway and overpass that would clear peak water levels by one and a half feet. It would be supported by sturdy CCA (pressure-treated) posts and would avoid several large trees.
ConsCom Chairman Roy Watson was concerned that a wooden bridge with wide planks might prove slippery for horses in bad weather, but Williams said proper spacing between boards should take care of that. Commissioner Tricia Smith called attention to the fact that the Billerica town water supply is downstream of Great Brook and suggested that non-toxic (arsenic-free) ACQ posts should replace the proposed CCA type. Williams promised to consider the change, and the hearing was closed, with the special condition that the applicants return with a revised detail on the eight piling materials.
The second GBFSP NOI sought approval for repair of a culvert under the closed roadway near Lowell Street and North Road. Clearing of the stream bed will require alteration of its banks and surrounding ground, which makes it a protected area under the state Rivers Act. Thus ConsCom supervision is required.
Williams promised that all work will take place in periods of low flow and that the "beautiful sloping stone stream bed" as described by the engineer will not be altered. Silt fencing will be maintained as the work progresses, and any damage to the banks will be restored and re-vegetated. The engineer predicts that the repairs will stop the troublesome ponding that has occurred on Lowell Street in recent years. Although school buses will have sufficient room to turn around in the cleared area immediately off the main road, no vehicles will be allowed on the old road or bridge any more, but the trail will remain open to horses and pedestrians. The hearing was closed and the applicants told to submit a detailed siltation specification prior to the start of work.
© 2007 The