Is BOS Waffling on Town Meeting vote?

Last night a handful of neighbors attended the BOS meeting to express varied concerns regarding the aftermath of what has transpired with Flannagan Pond as a result of the mysterious beaver dam collapse.

This portion of the meeting focused on the report from Lycott Environmental and their assessment of the low chances of successful treatment in light of the present condition of the pond (higher than normal water, increased chemical dilution, increased turbidity, impact downstream etc.).  All these factors suggest that there is no chance for treatment in Calendar 2011.

John Delcore expressed concerns about how our swamp-front property value is adversely affected at a more dramatic rate than homes that are on properly maintained waterfront.  This assumption was challenged by Home & Garden Poster-Child, Selectman Maxant.

Tom Poole encouraged Conservation to give consideration to a drawdown and a hard freeze. This would give homeowners the opportunity to remove a great deal of shoreline refuse during fall cleanup. In so doing, this would minimize decomposition of even larger volumes of vegetation next year, stating that the decomp process consumes a great deal of oxygen and adversely affects the fish population.

I raised a concern about funding crossing fiscal year boundaries.  UDAG funding is clearly not affected, but Operating Budgets end on June 30th.  So my question was whether Article 38 at Town Meeting was considered a Capital Expense, which can cross fiscal years, or whether it was an Operating Expense, which cannot.  I have since verified that Article 38 is a Special Article and that it DOES roll over to the next fiscal year!

Now the confusion, Ms. Conley suggests I come before the October Town Meeting and do it all again, Mr. Luca suggests doing it through Community Preservation, and Ms. McCreary is still chastising me for having the audacity to use a Citizen’s Petition in the first place. I don’t even remember what Mr. Maxant contributed at this point.

I am still confused by the gross disparity of opinions at last night’s meeting regarding the funding of Article 38 at ATM. I understand that the Town Meeting passed a budget that is out of balance. That does not make Article 38 less likely to be funded than any other article that was voted on, simply because it was the last one on the agenda.

I certainly understand that Article 38 will be viewed less favorably because it was a Citizen’s Petition and therefore was not sanctioned or endorsed with any legitimacy throughout the budgeting process; however it attained legitimacy on the floor of the assembly when it prevailed by a single vote.

I am perplexed that the BOS continues to state that the article is unfunded, when it carries the same weight as every other article that was voted in the affirmative. If there is a need to revisit this in the Fall Town Meeting, will every other article that was voted on be brought back for discussion?

What I do know is this, if we, as a community, cannot or will not commit to an ongoing, systematic management of our ponds, we will continue to deal with these issues in a crisis mode, with parties frustrated and distrustful of one another’s motives.  We are at a crossroads.  As a Town, we have a momentum that is placing a spotlight on these issues (that cannot be allowed to die in committee), we have a synergy that is emerging between Citizens and Conservation.  We must not allow this opportunity to pass through our fingers as bureaucracy places more value on process, than progress.



About saveourpond

I am a lifelong resident of Ayer who lives on Flanagan's Pond.
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5 Responses to Is BOS Waffling on Town Meeting vote?

  1. A Sportsman says:

    re: “Tom Poole encouraged Conservation to give consideration to a drawdown and a hard freeze. This would give homeowners the opportunity to remove a great deal of shoreline refuse during fall cleanup. In so doing, this would minimize decomposition of even larger volumes of vegetation next year, stating that the decomp process consumes a great deal of oxygen and adversely affects the fish population.”

    Sigh, this has been tried again, again, and again with no success. Yes, draw downs can work but not in Flannagans. How do I know? Every year the town removes two boards for just that reason and every spring the weeds are there on the shoreline. Milfoil grows at depths much greater than draw-down can typically reach, so recolonization will undo the freeze. Anyhow we do not get the hard freeze that is needed to do the job. The muck and sediment resist the drying out that is necessary, snow cover, January thaws, mitigate the chances of success. During the winter there can be a foot of ice on the pond but when I enter the winter pond I find that I sink down into soft shoreline muck. In the end all a larger draw down will do is kill fish and impact spawning.

    When man thinks we know more than mother nature we many times get surprised. You may find that some nuisance weeds may increase and experiencing more frequent algal blooms. Understand Flannagans Pond averages 4-4 1/2′ and is gently sloped. The draw-down may cause deeper weeds to die off but not to the point they are destroyed and consume even more oxygen thus killing wildlife. The most that has been authorized is 2 board removal. So to take out more than 1/2 of the volume makes no sense. Besides MassDEP will never authorize such as it goes against practices. Do you think that if you draw down the water in the fall you will be able to pull out the plant roots? The only sound practice is to get rid of the weeds per plans or dredge.

    This is from the document that DCR considers the ‘bible’ in water management: There are a variety of possible negative consequences of drawdown for non-target species. Potential adverse impacts of an individual drawdown may not be manifest or may be temporary, yet repetitive application of drawdown could induce long-term impacts if temporary
    impacts are caused repeatedly. Therefore, drawdown should be preceded by an evaluation of possible impacts. If drawdown appears feasible under regulatory constraints, an appropriate monitoring plan should be developed that will signal adverse impacts if they occur and facilitate mitigative action. Assumption of impacts without a system-specific evaluation is unjustified, but prevention of unacceptable impacts is likely to require careful planning, implementation and
    monitoring, and may be difficult in some situations.

    Six years ago the town of Ayer was requested by MassDEP to create a Dam Management plan. To date it hasn’t happened. We recently witnessed the destruction caused by the beaver dam break. Was there any pre-failure study or planning done to avoid this situation? I suggest Ayer does not have the competence to do careful planning, implementation and monitoring of any draw-down especially if they can’t even up up with a mandated dam management plan.

    Among other conditions DCR has these recommendations for any draw-down.
    Commence drawdown after the beginning of November.
    Achieve the target drawdown depth by the beginning of December. – So tell me how many of us will be out there after the beginning of December?
    Achieve full lake level by the beginning of April.

    Lastly, unless the Fire Department no longer uses the backup hydrants that take their water from the pond system any excessive draw-down will compromise fire fighting abilities. Do you want to take that risk?

  2. A Sportsman says:

    Have all the boards been replaced at the dam?

  3. A Sportsman says:

    Oh, both boards are still OUT. Thus going forward expect a very very low water condition to get worse and much more weed growth (as if that were possible). The water from the dam break is gone.

  4. Abbie Moran says:

    If the water level is low again why won’t they go ahead with the treatment of the pond?
    I could buy a weed cutter and spend my off time slicing weeds as everyone pulls them
    to shore….

  5. A Sportsman says:

    I suspect it is too late into the summer. The plants need to be caught at a certain growth stage for the liquid sonar to be effective. A couple of years ago the town treated the pond late with pellets which didn’t work and was a waste of money. The impression is this is and has been a waste of money. I am not saying it is a waste of money, just that Ayer seems to be doing everything it can to make projects such as protecting our natural resources fail. Now you know why we don’t receive more public support.

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