TOWN OF ARLINGTON VISION 2020
ENVIRONMENT TASK GROUP
In attendance: Gene Benson, Stephen Emsbo-Mattingly, Roger Frymire, Cathy Garnett, Bryan Hasbrouck, Jane Howard, Elizabeth Karpati, Ann LeRoyer, Leslie Mayer, Sharon Stafford, Susan Wheelock; Arlington Advocate reporter Rachel Grubb.
The meeting was facilitated by Gene Benson. The minutes are by Elizabeth Karpati.
· Gene Benson reported from Rich Bento, who couldn't attend tonight but will probably attend Dec. 20. He does not yet have the timeline he expected to have ready for today. Consultants (Weston & Sampson) are checking on infiltration of water through dam; timeline will depend on answer.
· Bento is also checking with consultants whether swimming area can be supplied entirely from Res (now it is filled mainly with water taken from the Res and filtered, but is "topped off" with MDC water as needed). Res receives water which flows through Reed's Brook area (old dump)! Water in swimming area is regularly tested for bacteria but not for other substances.
· The latest plan envisioned by consultants and Bento seems to be "# 3-1/2": remove trees from both faces of dam on both sides of wide area (ex-stump-dump) and replace with grass (or other vegetation with non-threatening roots).
· We need a list of Res issues; it should include the chain link fence and parking. We could ask for issues at the public meeting next spring.
· Rich Bento will give a presentation on the swimming area to Parks & Rec on Tuesday, Dec. 5, probably at Whittemore-Robbins House.
· Vision 2020 is mandated to reach out to residents annually and does it via the census mailing, since 1991. The insert reports on all of Vision 2020's activities, focusing on some. The 1999 insert, which included the Res survey, brought over 2500 returns, so this year's insert will include a report on the findings of that survey.
· New questions will be added this year about open space / parks and recreation: what is needed or wanted, and how could it be funded?
· A six-page insert is planned this year. A partial draft was distributed and discussed. Any further comments should be sent to Leslie or Jane. The insert will be revised at the next Standing Committee meeting on Dec. 6.
Mt. Gilboa grant money:
· Grant is $20,000, was requested by Mt. Gilboa Association "to preserve the Res as open water" (i.e., get rid of water chestnuts). It is CDBG money, approved in 1998, but not used. Is it still there? Alan McClennen would know.
· Chick Abbott suggests negotiating with ConCom and Mt. Gilboa Association to see whether the money (if still there) could be used for something else Res-related, maybe a study of eutrophication, which may be speeded up if water level is kept permanently low; but other kinds of related projects, e.g. a hydraulic study of the swimming area, are less likely to be approved.
· Stephen, who was formerly on the ConCom, said there are some studies on inputs to the Res, but they have not been pulled together. Maybe Mt. Gilboa money could be used for that -- something like the Shanahan study for Spy Pond, which cost $12,00 in 1997, or a similar one in Hopkinton, mentioned by Cathy, which cost $20,000.
· A suggestion was made that perhaps the shallowest part of the Res, near where Monroe Brook enters, could be bermed off to serve as an infiltration area and help keep the rest of the Res cleaner. That area lies in Lexington. Such an idea could be studied by the Mt. Gilboa Association with the involvement of Lexington people.
· Eutrophication study would be important because if the water level is kept permanently low, any inputs will be acting on a smaller volume of water. Would low level also slow down turnover of water in Res? Bento is trying to get consultants to identify such issues. Is this in their contract?
· David White sent in a question about the impact of water level fluctuation (always low except when raised at irregular intervals for flood control). He thinks muskrats got flooded recently. But will new scenario be that different? Current one also includes occasional raising of water level outside of swimming season for flood control. Right now water level is above minimum, probably due to recent rains. Is this deliberate, or did emergency repairs, after the gate mechanism broke last summer, leave only a slit of a certain size for outflow so that extra rainwater backs up behind it?
Roger Frymire on water chestnuts:
· He got permission from DEP and four towns to do harvesting from Alewife Brook and Reservation.
· When equipment became unexpectedly available, the Arlington ConCom gave emergency permission for mechanical harvesting on the Res but the Lexington ConCom didn't, so only the Arlington part of was harvested. Roger obtained permission to do additional hand harvesting and pulled out another 600 pounds of water chestnuts from the edges of the Arlington part of the Res.
· Next year the Arlington ConCom will insist on full notice of intent before permitting harvesting, so the process of requesting it needs to be started in late winter; then our ConCom will ask the Lexington ConCom to go along with the whole 3-year process, which has been funded at about $25-30,000.
· Eradication requires hand as well as mechanical harvesting. Whole plant must be removed, not just flower. Early harvesting, when plants are small (May-June), is best. Could volunteers help?
· Black spiky things that wash up on shore are mostly just husks, not seeds; gathering them won't help. Seeds remain in water, are viable for at least 3 years but maybe up to 12.
· If water level is not raised in summer, maybe seeds in shallow area (northern end) won't have enough water to germinate.
· Ann LeRoyer reported on the Open Space Plan. It was written in 1996, needs to be updated every 5 years to be eligible for state funds. Any input should be given to Ann.
· Next meeting of Open Space Committee is Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in first floor conference room.
· Copies of the 1996 plan are available in the Library and the Planning Department. Arlington won an award for its plan in 1996 - but there have been no state funds available for the last 5 years.
· There will be a public hearing, probably in March, on the revised plan; then it must be approved by the 2001 Town Meeting.
NEXT MEETING: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 7:30 p.m. second floor conference