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Do-over required for special town meeting Town seeks stimulus funds to address erosion at Lovell Lake By Larissa Mulkern Editor WAKEFIELD — Due to an error in the wording of the special warrant article prepared by the state Department of Revenue Adminis

Town seeks stimulus funds to address erosion at Lovell Lake

July 02, 2009
WAKEFIELD — Due to an error in the wording of the special warrant article prepared by the state Department of Revenue Administration, the town must hold a second special town meeting to seek voter approval to accept federal funds to address erosion problems at Lovell Lake.

The do-over public hearing, which will be immediately followed by a vote, will be held on July 15 at 7 p.m. at the Wakefield Town Hall. The first of the two required public hearings was held during the June 24 board of selectmen meeting.

Voters had previously approved the special warrant article to accept $112,500 in federal funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, with a second payment of $112,500 that the town would pay back over five years. The warrant article should have asked voters to raise and appropriate the total amount -- $225,000 even though the town only repays half that amount. The money will be used to fund erosion control and water protection projects coordinated by the Acton Wakefield Watershed Alliance, its Youth Conservation Corps, VHB Engineers and the UNH Stormwater Center.

In an outline presented at the first public hearing, engineer Bill Archieri presented the firms' recommendations as to how to spend the money: $20,000 towards the expansion of the AWWA Youth Conservation Corps program, to partially work with property owners in an effort to address issues with residential properties; $120,000 towards road maintenance, ditch improvements and stabilization, which may include additional work if the Highway Department is able to participate; $50,000 for culverts and streambank scour protection; and $35,000 for necessary engineering and oversight.

"There were a lot of projects submitted and this one scored very high. The alliance was going to pursue this project whether there was stimulus money or not," said select board Chair Mark Duffy at the June 24 session. Duffy said that while the project will not generate a "whole lot" of new employment, it will involve town road crews who will learn from the experience, and fund youth works with the conservation corps. "We have a problem with culverts; we'll learn how to control erosion problems," said Duffy. AWWA board member Linda Schier agreed, saying that the project will be a model in how to address road and erosion problems on the town's many private roads.

Piping up a number of times during the hearing, Bonneyman Road resident Stan Maluchnik said he's been complaining for years about similar road erosion problems on Bonneyman Road and runoff of sand and such into Province Lake. After several warnings from the board, Maluchnik was asked to simmer down until the board took up his issues in a separate appointment following this public hearing.

During the public comment session, Judy Nason asked how the project was estimated, whether it figured on the work being done privately or by public (town) crews. Town Administrator Robin Frost replied the project estimate was based on materials, engineering, and youth corps funding costs. She said the grant would not be used to reimburse the cost of labor for town employees.

Arthur Fulton asked whether homeowners would be mandated to participate in the upcoming projects. The answer was no, they don't, but Schier stressed that most homeowners really want to participate in these projects.

"Most property owners on the lake are enthusiastic about it. Most of the people have already asked us for help," she said, adding that homeowners pay for equipment, but first AWWA technical coordinator Adam Shoukimas designs a solution. Other homeowners choose to do the work themselves based on his designs.

In response from Nason's question about why the warrant article doesn't require a recommendation from the budget committee, Frost explained that there is a special state bill that allows for towns to conduct an expedited hearing to accept ARRA funds. "There is no provision for the budget committee to weigh in on it other than attending the public hearings," said Frost. She provided Nason with a copy of the state law.

Nason asked if any leftover funds would be returned. Frost replied the funds would stay in the town's general fund and if it were to be used elsewhere, the town would have to appropriate it. Sometimes the surplus in the general fund is used to offset the tax rate.

The project will involved between 2,500 and 3,500 linear feet of road. "Fixing the road will fix a lot of the problem," said one resident.

Martin Lord Osman
Tilton School
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