January 23, 2002  Meeting Notes

In attendance:   Freeland Abbott, Rich Bento (Arlington DPW), Ralph Elwell, Margaret Fitzgerald, Cathy Garnett, Brian Hasbrouck, Ann LeRoyer, Leslie Mayer, Mark Mitsch (Weston & Sampson engineer consultant), Dan Oconnor, Oakes Plimpton, Sharon Stafford, Susan Wheelock, David White

Introduction and Agenda

The meeting started at 7:30 and broke up around 10:00. Gene Benson stopped by early to touch base but had to leave due to a conflicting engagement. Leslie Mayer, the Res Committee co-chair facilitated the meeting. Leslie presented an agenda of two primary items - an "Options Presentation" by Rich Bento, followed by a discussion of a proposed Town warrant article submitted by Committee participants.

Options Presentation and Discussion

Rich delivered the "Options Presentation" along with Mark, who organized the talk around a set of slides. The slides summarized dam uses and options, but focused on the topic of dam removal, flood control, and advantages and disadvantages of the tentative dam rehab proposal. Copies of the presentation were distributed to attendees.

Mark summarized the dam uses into three categories - recreation, wildlife, and downstream flood control. Options for management were given as dam removal, permanent low level, and rehab to maintain current operation. Mark focused considerable attention on the flood control capabilities of the dam operation, including information that has not been presented previously to the Committee. There was a summary of a 1974 hydrological report prepared by C. E. Maguire that considered the 1955 Hurricane Diane event and a 1969 flood, and recommended a flood control strategy based on dam operation. To this flooding history, Mark added a summary of the March 22, 2001 storm that we are all familiar with, to illustrate the important role that the dam serves for flood control.

The presentation and discussion shifted to the dam removal option, which implies the need for Mill Brook improvements downstream to accommodate additional storm flows. The total cost is uncertain, as well as environmental and hydrological feasibility. For one location, Pierce Field (site of High School, haz mat rehab, Mill Brook flows in underground conduit), Rich described the current plan for hydrological improvements. This plan calls for an expensive culvert that is currently designed with dam-in-place assumptions. The plan would have to be redone if the dam is removed. And it would probably be more expensive.

There was discussion about the option to keep the water level permanently low. Mark and Rich believe this still requires substantial dam rehab including tree removal on the berm. There was disagreement and speculation on what sort of new growth effects a permanent low-level would have. Also how this would pass regulatory review. The discussion covered the MEPA process roughly - the Town gets all its plans together with an Environmental Notification Form (ENF). The State looks it over and decides whether the environmental disruption is significant, in which case the Town must submit an Environment Impact Report (EIR). This would entail a high level of regulatory scrutiny and review process. Rich thinks that low level operation would trigger an EIR process. Chick thinks that whatever we do will trigger an EIR process. Cathy speculated that the MEPA process could trigger scrutiny of the seasonal water level plan, that has evolved informally over years.

Mark and Rich gave a summary of rehab design benefits - keep recreation uses much as they are, retain and improve flood management, satisfy DEM safety. Low level operation has many of the same benefits, but it's still a dam, we still have to remove trees, plus we must fix the beach berm, and probably it would trigger a MEPA EIR. There was some additional round table discussion on the tree issue, and Mark promised a full meeting just on tree delineation. This would be part of the "final plan".

There were a number of related discussions that followed on various topics including these: Rich intends to spec the project to differentiate dam rehab from stump dump rehab. Cathy also raised the issue that the Town might be able to accept liability for leaving things the way they are. Rich said he'd look into this.

As the discussion tailed, Rich announced a strong interest to get closure on the question of dam removal, and he requested the group to achieve a consensus of support for a plan to keep the dam operational. Rich recognizes that the Res Committee represents an important cross section of public participation and interest in this matter. He wants buy-in. His request was met largely by silence, which this participant interpreted as acclamation. Leslie continued to voice doubt and it was pointed out that Gene and some other members were not present, yet their interests must be acknowledged. So Rich offered a follow up meeting with Leslie and Gene, and others who were not present or are not persuaded. Will anyone who has an interest in this meeting please contact Gene? Gene and Leslie can you keep us posted on how you make out with this?

At the end of this topic discussion, there was some interest to distill Mark's presentation and other inputs into a new options matrix. I was fading fast at this point and I can't remember what we decided. But I thought Sharon and Leslie would lead this. Contact Leslie if you have an interest.

Town Warrant Article

Leslie gave a brief presentation of the Town warrant article that she and some others prepared at a January 10, 2002 meeting. The purpose, it turns out, was to meet a submission deadline. There is a a window of opportunity now to submit a revised article, with improvements. This will be on the agenda for the next meeting (February 19).


Regular meetings:  Wednesday, January 23;   Tuesday, February 19;  Wednesday, March 13;  Monday, April 8;  Tuesday, May 14;  Tuesday, June 11;  all at 7:30 PM.

All meetings in first floor room of Town Hall Annex except June meeting, which is on second floor.  

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