Conservation Commission Meeting – 11/5/18

Members Present:

Alicia Flammia (Chair), John Peska (Vice Chair), Lewis Shelley, Laura Hayes, Steven Dumont

Alternates Present:

Gary Speed, Myra Mansouri, Peter Palmiotto

Members Absent:

Elaine Heleen, Kelli Wilson, Duncan Watson, Jackie Kensen

Others Present:

Peggy Pschirrer (Selectboard Representative), Ray Boas, Cheryl Mayberry (Selectboard Representative), Chuck Shaw, Marcia Galloway, Jeff & Beth Colley

 

Call to Order: Alicia called the meeting to order at 7:31 PM. 

Seating of Alternates: No seating of alternates required.

 

Review and approve minutes – October 1, 2018. Lew made a motion to approve as written. John seconded. All in favor.

 

Public Business:

1. Treasury: Forestry account has $2,270.61 and conservation account has $9,177.64. The forestry PDIP account has $59,041.63 and the conservation PDIP account has $91,947.59. The expendable portion of the Fanny Mason account, as of September 30, 2018, has $318,013.11.
2. Correspondence:
a. Southwest Regional Planning Commission sent an order form for a manual. Form has expired.
b. The New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC) had their annual event on November 3rd. 
c. NHACC membership dues are due. The total is $275.00.
d. Connecticut River Joint Commissions Homeowners guide to riparian buffers.
e. Email from NH DES Designated River Program. Public hearing on November 26th in Concord.

 

New Business:

1. Walker Road Property: 
a. Letter of support: Alicia forgot to print the letter of support, but she copied the letter John prepared for the Monadnock Conservancy easement on the Cold River. Alicia asked for a motion to have her finish and submit the letter. John asked if we need to since we have prepared one previously. Peggy stated that we hadn’t specifically submitted one for the purchase and acquisition for the Walker Road property. Alicia mentioned that we have previously made a motion to support in spirit the purchase but have not written a formal letter and submitted it to the selectboard. Peggy stated that we need this letter for the first public hearing which is mandated for the town to purchase public land. Alicia can send out the letter by the end of the week if there is a motion. John made a motion to have Alicia prepare, sign and send out a letter of support from the WCC to support the town’s acquisition of the Walker Road property. Lew seconded. All in favor.
b. Request for funds: Peter Palmiotto presented some maps of the Walker Road property and discussed the site. The property has been historically farmed for hay. It has a medium to high conservation value in the comparative land values natural resource map. Peter noted that the land would be bought by the group leading the Walker Road Conservation effort, then donated to the town and stewarded by the WCC. It could be used again for hay or agricultural uses. John noted that with the lease agreement for the Boggy Meadow Farm  we have something in place to allow for this. Steven noted that we could use that letter as a base for this property. Alicia turned the discussion over to Dr. Chuck Shaw. Chuck is representing the contingent of people who have been shepherding the conservation process, which includes Peter, Marcia, himself, Ray, and Jeff and Beth Colley. Chuck noted that the land is almost a 10 acre piece of property, adjacent to the veterinarian hospital, which he owns. He passed out flyers with the title “Protect Walpole’s Gateway”. He mentioned that this is the third time in the last 20 years someone has tried to buy and develop the property. It has been tried by an auto repair company, a truck rental business and now a gas station. Chuck mentioned that there is a lot of interest in protecting the land and not having to go through this again in a few years. The property is well sited for a business but is not zoned for business. Chuck noted that they have a purchase and sale agreement on the property. They also have a closure date by the end of the year, for $280,000.00. They are working on raising money to turn the property over to the town and to be managed by the WCC. He mentioned that the land was owned by Fanny Mason in 1935. She sold it and it changed hands over the years. Chuck sees is as coming back to us now and an opportunity to protect it and create a greenway south down route 12 up to and including the Fanny Mason forest. Chuck and his group are going to be at the town hall handing out flyers while people are voting. He mentioned that the purchase will not be done with property taxes. It will be done with grants and fundraising. The town will own the land. The WCC will manage it. Chuck pointed out the bullet points on the back of the WCC’s handout, one of which reads “The challenge for any town is to identify where its most important natural and cultural resources are located. These are the lands that contribute to the character and identity of the town. The lands that really make the town special. These lands should be considered as the highest priority for protection.” The groups goal is to come away with a promise of $100,000 from the WCC. They are trying to get 70% of the money raised by the end of November. Laura asked if the group may be going after other properties in the future, if they came up for purchase. Ray Boas mentioned that they envision this as a starting point, and there are other properties south. They are unsure of what may happen in the future. Ray mentioned that if the group is successful in getting more than the funds they need, the extra money would come back to the WCC out of the promised $100,000. John asked who owned the property in the past. Chuck noted it was Fanny Mason. John asked if Fanny Mason Trust funds could be used for this. Lew and Alicia agreed that they could. Alicia noted that there are two balances in the Fanny Mason fund, an expendable fund with a $318,000 balance and a non expendable fund of $12,000. Alicia asked what we had done at the last meeting to get some of the expendable fund out to the Monadnock Conservancy and Steven and John noted we have not followed through on that. We agreed to give $10,000 total with $1,000 from the conservation fund and $9,000 from the Fanny Mason fund. John has not had a chance to talk with Rich about how to do that. Steven mentioned that he believes we are all in agreement that the project has merit and the question is how much money we are going to donate and from which funds. Again, Ray is asking for a $100,000 maximum with any overage going back to the WCC. On a side note, Peggy made a comment on the Fanny Mason Trust fund, which she said is difficult to read and confusing. There is, in interest, $128,176.23. The state does not allow this to be rolled back into the principal. The total value in the fund, which includes principal and interest, is $446,733.54. Alicia asked which cannot be touched, and Peggy noted that it could all be used. There is a non expendable Mason trust fund which is about $12,000. John asked again on the timeline and Chuck said they would like to have everything wrapped by the end of the year. The purchase will occur. They have a date of 4:00 PM on New Years Eve, or sooner. John made a motion to support the effort with up to $100,000 from the Fanny Mason Trust fund to support the purchase of the Walker Road property. Lew seconded. All in favor. Chuck, Ray and the group thanked everyone.
2. Town Conservation Map Review: Peter presented the updated maps. There are still some missing easements on them. Laura emailed a spreadsheet with all the easements and information she has found. Peter would like to have the map color coded with the type of easement noted on them. He would like to create a wall map and a map that can be handed out. Alicia asked if there was an electronic portal or some way for the WCC to store information. Peggy noted the website is up. Peter said we have to contact the website designer and let him know what we want on the site. Gary asked Peggy if the select board or the town owns land in North Walpole. There is about 50 acres of land behind Dunnings. Peter noted it would be on the tax maps. There are other properties on the map which are not listed. It was mentioned that the list could be sent out to various conservation agencies and they could help to fill in some blanks. Peter would like to get the wall map completed and work from there.
3. Nov. 17 Farmers Market: the WCC was asked by Peter to have a presence at the farmers market, to hand out conservation information and spread the word about the Walker Road property. Alicia asked if anyone is available. Steven and Laura could each do an hour or so. Alicia mentioned she could as well. Peter cannot make it but will have Chuck get us maps and flyers. Laura, Steven and Alicia to coordinate times.
4. Barry 4-H Conservation Camp: the WCC is now receiving notice directly from 4-H. The camps were filled last year and so the student was not able to attend. John will speak with school and ask if the student from last year would like to go this year. 
5. Watershed Town Forest Management Plan: Alicia found a request from this Spring from the MC for a copy of the management plan. Alicia misplaced the request and has not sent it. Alicia asked if we have a copy and where it would be. Laura has not seen it. John asked if Peter Rhodes has sent the new town forester all the information. Alicia will email the new forester to see what they have. 

 

Old Business:

1. Great Brook Farm Easement – Monadnock Conservancy: Steven mentioned we need to follow up on the process of how we get the $9,000 from the Fanny Mason fund and how we get the $1,000 from the conservation fund. Alicia has emailed Stacy to let her know we are contributing and how much. Cheryl mentioned we need to submit a letter to Karen Galloway, and she will contact the bank to release the funds. Minutes, account numbers and backup documentation need to be attached. Steven mentioned that we can ask for this $9,000, but we should wait for the $100,000 for the Walker Road property. Steven will pull the letter together.
2. Great Brook/Boggy Meadow: Alicia drafted the letter and passed the draft around. She thinks we should attach an exhibit of the property. She thinks she may have the map or lot number wrong. Steven mentioned that there are a few emails that came in earlier in the day that have corrections to the property size and map number. Alicia will track those down and attach to the letter. Peggy said the adjacent property is held under easement by the MC, but Laura’s spreadsheet mentions the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. Peggy mentioned the Sawyer property was given to the town. Alicia will pull together all the information and it can be reviewed at the next meeting. There will be three exhibits to the agreement. This will also be used as a template for any other public land agreements. John made a motion to approve the lease agreement as discussed with the edits. Steven seconded. All in favor.
3. Reservoir Dam: John noted than on Oct. 15th & Oct. 16th there have been surveys done, but he has not seen any activity since. Alicia has an invoice from Fuss & O’Neill for the work done, in the amount of $2,495.43. Lew made a motion to pay the invoice and John seconded. All in favor. The funds will come out of the forestry account, and the motion includes moving $2,500 from the PDIP account to cover the invoice.
4. Fannie Mason Feasibility Study: Lew will discuss next month.
5. Forest Society Easement Monitoring: Jackie walked one easement and Laura did not hear back from her if she wanted help walking the other easement. The Forest Society needs the reports by the end of the year. WCC will follow up with Jackie at next meeting.
6. Champion Black Oak, Mill Pond Signage: Kelli is looking into the plaque. Steven has a paper certificate. Discussion at December meeting.
7. Nelson Town Forest Easement Monitoring: Steven noted Rebecca was going to monitor the property in November and wanted to know if anyone from the WCC would like to go along. No one has heard from Rebecca. Laura lives close by and would be interested. Alicia will forward Rebecca’s email to everyone so they can participate, if Alicia receives it.
8. Open Positions: Connecticut River Joint Commissions, Cold River Local Advisory: no update on interested people. Duncan was looking in to and Jennifer Palmiotto is not interested.
9. Trail Work: Alicia mentioned publishing the need for trail work to see if anyone is interested. Lew is worried about schedule and the ground freezing up. December 1 is a possibility. Lew mentioned that the Fanny Mason trails have a bunch of trees down and could be cleared regardless of frozen ground. Peter mentioned schools need volunteer hours. December 1 is put forth as a possible day for work.

 

Other Business:

1. None.

 

Adjournment: At 9:26 Gary made a motion to adjourn the meeting. John seconded. Meeting adjourned.

Next Meeting: Monday, December 3, 2018 at 7:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted; Steven Dumont, Recording Secretary

Note: These are unapproved minutes. Corrections, if any, will be found in the minutes of December 3, 2018

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