Friday, December 11, 2009
Shorts from the Conservation Commission, December 3
• Police Station, Request for Determination. Police Chief John Sullivan appeared before the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) at its December 3 meeting regarding a Request for Determination for repaving the driveway and parking areas at the Police Station at 41 Lowell Street. The pavement is more than 20 years old and there is concern over safety issues related to the crumbling surface. Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard presented the construction plan, emphasizing that no grades would be changed and the septic tank buried below the pavement presented no problem.
After agreeing on the location of silt barriers along the wetland border, members voted unanimously to issue a negative Request for Determination. “Negative in this case is good, Chief,” said Chair Peter Burn in response to Sullivan’s momentary concern.
• 779 West Street, Gregory Bruell, Enforcement order response.Members of the ConsCom spent more than an hour at their December 3 meeting discussing the 15 outstanding violations relating to the construction of a Japanese garden owned by Gregory Bruell at 779 West Street. Jon Storer, whom Bruell hired to “fix” the construction project and provide the commission with a plan, attended the meeting to face the ire of the members.
The project began auspiciously almost two years ago as a Japanese landscape garden, but quickly went astray. An Order of Conditions required that a garden management plan be submitted to ConsCom six weeks prior to the initiation of work. No such plan was received and a recent site visit revealed a number of “massive boulders” of unknown origin that obviously required heavy equipment to place on the site. A dug out area, possibly for a pond, is in close proximity to a bordering wetland containing a documented vernal pool. A contractor had installed hay bales and a silt retention barrier, but no one could identify who did the work. ConsCom decided at its last meeting that unless a plan was promptly submitted, a series of daily fines would be instituted until the plan was received.
Storer sincerely tried to assuage the commission’s concerns with a written response to each allegation. “Does this satisfy our requirements and therefore not trigger the immediate fines that we discussed last time?” Chair Peter Burn asked the members. His answer came in the form of five frowns at the head table. “This doesn’t look like much of a management plan to me,” said member Tricia Smith. “It looks like something that was just thrown together. It’s too general.”
“One problem, Jon, is that you don’t have enough background on our previous efforts and I’m really uncomfortable with the way this is going right now,” continued Smith. “I think Mr. Bruell needs to be a little bit more forthcoming with information directly to the commission rather than doing it through you.” This led an obviously frustrated Smith to sum up her feelings by saying, “I would be happiest if this site was allowed to re-vegetate and be left alone.” Burn wasn’t willing to go that far. Not yet anyway.
After looking at several alternatives, members decided to ask for three things – a complete list of contractors who have worked on the project up to this point, a specific garden management plan, and the retaining of a wetland scientist to review the plan and assess the existing damage to the wetland. “I think Mr. Storer has made a substantial improvement and we are moving in the right direction,” said Burn, trying to ease the tension. “It’s not his fault that he’s not getting good information,” added member Tom Brownrigg. Burn recommended that they leave the fines hanging and that Storer proceed with addressing the three action items. He is expected to report back to the commission at its next meeting in two weeks.
• Community Garden Manager resignation. Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard had some disappointing news for members of the Conservation Commission regarding the Foss Farm Community Gardens. “Bob Dennison has, after at least 20 if not 30 years, decided that he no longer can be the garden manager.” Responding to concerns of a successor, Willard offered, “It may take more than one person to split up the job.” Chair Peter Burn spoke for all community gardeners who have enjoyed the rewards of their harvest at Foss Farm when he said, “Let me express for the commission our gratitude to Mr. Dennison for his years of service.”
• ConsCom open position. The ConsCom has been seeking a new member since last June when former Chair Tom Schultz stepped down at the end of his second term. Debra Kimbrell-Anderson waited patiently in the audience through the lengthy December 3 meeting for her interview with the commission. Finally, at around 10 o’clock, her moment finally arrived. All the members agreed that her credentials were impeccable. “I’d like to give back to the community,” said Kimbrell-Anderson when asked why she was interviewing.
After answering a wide range of queries, she turned the classic interview question around. “How did each of you guys decide to join ConsCom?” This prompted the commission members to add another half-hour to the meeting with tales of their ascension to the head table. When members finally ran out of stories, they unanimously agreed to recommend that Kimbrell-Anderson be appointed by the Board of Selectmen to the Conservation Commission. ∆
© 2009 The