Friday, December 7, 2007
Fire pits worry Conservation Land Stewards
A perceived fire hazard at the 242-acre Greenough Land off Maple Street was the most urgent of four disparate matters on which Land Stewardship Committee (LSC) members Lynn Knight and Warren Lyman sought Conservation Commission (ConsCom) input during the commission's November 29 meeting.
The problem came to light when Lyman discovered an informal fire pit, with a bench and chairs, on the north side of Greenough Pond, about a half mile from any road. He dismantled the pit and removed the seats, only to find the site reassembled and the bench replaced two weeks later. At that point Lyman said he informed the ConsCom office and the Carlisle Police and Fire Departments, who along with the District Fire Warden, indicated some concern.
On November 21, Lyman said he and Willard posted two laminated "no fires permitted" signs at the pit and on the trail to the east, where it would be seen by walkers from Billerica, but on November 23, while he and Police Officer Pat Coburn were exploring the site, they spied a youth wearing a hooded sweatshirt go up the trail heading west. Later, after the two investigators had evaluated possible emergency access routes to the pit site, they again encountered the young man, this time sitting on the bench enjoying a smoke.
Coburn confronted the 15-year-old from Wilmington, and according to Lyman, "had a serious talk with him" and relieved him of the cigarettes. It is their hope that the youth will spread the word that the campsite is being watched by the local constabulary.
Lyman further reported that their searches had uncovered an old cart path off Brook Street that could probably accommodate some Fire Department equipment, if the heavy brush and saplings were removed along the sides of the trail. He strongly recommended that this be done and suggested simultaneous installation of a gate and/or chain at the entrance. The commissioners' reaction was unenthusiastic. Commissioner Tom Schultz elicited nods of agreement from most of his colleagues when he warned, "I'm afraid that would just encourage more kids to come in." However, when Commissioner Kelly Guarino expressed willingness to consider the proposal, the others agreed to take a second look at the situation.
It was later revealed that two other LSC members had found a similar fire pit at the river end of farmer Mark Duffy's cornfield at Foss Farm. Discarded beer cans and "the tracks of vehicular wheelies having been performed in the field," suggested active partying there, but no final decisions were forthcoming.
New LSC term structure
The LSC representatives next sought approval for a more formal administrative structure. At the time they were organized as a ConsCom subcommittee in late 2005, 11 volunteers were sworn in, with Lyman elected as chairman. The nine present members would like to establish official three-year appointments, with reappointment possible. In the first round, there would be staggered terms of one, two and three years to assure future continuity. They also proposed that the leadership be voted in at the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1. In the meantime, they are inviting two recent volunteers to attend their next meeting. The commissioners approved the proposed procedures and later strongly supported an LSC request that they and the stewards get together for an annual off-campus retreat (à la the Board of Selectmen) to set goals for the coming year.
Signage was the third action item, specifically a request for approval of a contract for construction of seven conservation land signs authorized by Town Meeting. The outlay must be okayed by both the Selectmen and ConsCom, because the money is coming from the Community Preservation Fund. The stewards also sought and received ex post facto approval of a separate grant application to pay for turtle-protection signage at Greenough.
Finally Knight informed the commissioners that the LSC will be asking for the Bog House water supply to be tested this spring, as part of the Board of Health's testing schedule. This should assure the quality of Duffy's tenant's drinking water.
© 2007 The