Friends of Farm Pond, Oak Bluffs, MA

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Friends of Farm Pond Meeting October 12th, 2007 held at the home of el Edwards and Al Willens

Present at the meeting were: Heather Goff, Kate Grandfield, el Edwards, Ron Moore, Peter & Peggy Yoars, Ann Baird, Sherry and David Grunden, Al Woollacott, Margie Clark, Diane Morgan, Ba Dutton, Ali Sullo, Janice Aubut and Mary Niederlitz. Heather began the meeting by reading a draft of a letter that Jeremy Bell has written regarding reopening the second culvert. Clarification was given that the currently operating culvert is too small, and that the second culvert - which is larger - was closed because the town and/or the state highway department did not want to maintain it.

There was a question about whether the pond would have sufficient flow with both culverts (assuming the second one is re-opened), and would a third opening be necessary. It was mentioned that we refer to this as "the new entrance to Farm Pond" rather than "the new culvert" because, depending on the findings from the studies, a bridge may be recommended.

David Grunden arrived and reported that Jeremy Bell has contacted the DEP, but a Notice of Intent to open the second culvert will need to be filed in order for permission to be granted. Jeremy also sent a letter (the final version of the draft read earlier by Heather) to the Mass. Dept. of Highways. David seemed to think that things were moving along smoothly towards getting permission to re-open the second culvert, but that the whole process would probably take about a month. Once permission is granted, he thought that actually doing the work of opening the culvert would not be too difficult, and could possibly be completed by the Town of OB (under his direction?).

Peter Yoars suggested that we should draft a letter to inform other potentially interested parties of our existence. He volunteered to head up a task group to draft the letter and compile materials for a mailing. He suggested that we include a Friends of Farm Pond Mission Statement as well as a request to sign our petition in the mailing. There was a lot of discussion as to what format the petition should take in the mailing, as well as when and to whom the mailing should be sent. It was determined that Peter would talk to Sam Low, and hopefully recruit him to assist in writing the letter. There was also some discussion of an article for the newspapers - Peter said that he would talk to Sam about this as well.

In discussing who the mailing should be sent to, at first there was mention of the 300-400 home/landowners within the Farm Pond watershed, but it was suggested that we cast a wider net - there are other groups on the island working on similar issues with other ponds, etc. David Grunden mentioned that he had many of the addresses of the residents of the watershed available, and he will be sending them to Kate Grandfield, as she is on the task force to create our mailing list. When it comes time to send the letter, Kate said that she will have the addresses ready and assist with putting together the mailing. Once we are closer to actually sending it out, we will re-visit the topic of who we are mailing to.

There were mixed opinions about whether a mailing should be done soon, or wait until we have a clearer idea about what we're looking to gain from sending it. There was also some discussion about what purpose the petition will serve and how soon we need it. David Grunden did not seem to think that it would be necessary to have the petition to get permission to re-open the second culvert, but that it would come in handy later - when we have a more permanent solution in mind for the "new entrance." However, Heather Goff mentioned that Jeremy Bell thought the petition would be very helpful when convincing the Mass Highway Department that the second culvert should be opened, because it shows public support.

The names Steve Berlucci and Ed Panek were mentioned as potentially helpful contacts in having the second culvert re-opened.

It was also mentioned that authorities looking at the assessor's map would see a 1.1A "beach" owned by the Comm. of Mass. Dept. of Environmental Mgmt., and that they might want to protect that area. However, this property has lost at least 60% of its acreage to erosion (I checked, and it's now listed at 18,731 sqft by the assessor - whereas 1.1A would be 47,916 sqft, but the map has not been changed). It was observed that this information could be helpful when we get to the point of proposing the new entrance to the pond.

As the meeting drew to an end, we re-capped our short-term objectives:

1. Re-opening the second culvert
2. Contacting others within the watershed
3. Publishing info about our group in the newspapers
4. Stabilizing the pond

(Meeting notes written by Kate Grandfield)
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