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Meadows site requires full year of hydrology tests

September 23, 2009
After Gilford's selectmen and Conservation Commission met with the Department of Environmental Services for a site visit at the Meadows Monday afternoon, it was determined that one consecutive growing season is needed to fully address environmental concerns and receive accurate hydrology test results before the School Board can continue with proposed plans for athletic fields.

The School Board submitted a standard dredge and fill application to the DES addressing the DES's concerns and the concerns of the Conservation Commission as well on the Meadows site located on Intervale Road by Route 11B. The site has been known to flood and still holds two prime concerns with the commission, including wetlands, an over all drainage issue, and the Adder-Hole (brook) that leads to the town beach.

The alteration of terrain application as been appealed and is now pending before the water counsel, said attorney Tupper Kinder, requested by the Conservation Commission. The community still holds a lot of concerns, and there was never a full enough hydrology study of the site to determine how the wetlands and brook will be impacted, or how high the water tables will elevate, said Kinder last Monday.

Certified wetland and soil scientist Nancy Rendall from Blue Moon Environmental Inc. was asked to consult with the Conservation Commission and further study the site which has not received continuous hydrology studies over the year, and would most likely need a full growing season in order to do so, said Rendall who has reviewed studies as far back as 2005.

"The Conservation Commission would like to see a study done for the wetlands or the alteration of terrain," said Rendall. "They asked me to address flood elevation and were concerned the proposed contention pond would not be sufficient. The wetland delineation is different than others."

Rendall explained that she went out on the site to observe the wetland delineation and went back to the commission with her own concerns. Rendall said that the Meadows land and soil has been disturbed over time and that the wetland boundary the School Board proposed may still be too close for comfort.

"I submitted a letter in Nov. or Dec. that said wetland and soil need to be addressed. There is a little bit of confusion on where the wetland delineation is and we wanted to get an accurate idea of where they were," said Rendall. "It is a sensitive area. There are drinking water wells and water supply areas. There is also Gunstock brook and a prime wetland system. It would be a benefit to the whole town."

Rendall added that a storm-quality issue still needs to be resolved as well concerning the Adder-Hole brook that leads to main water sources in the town.

Administrator of the Wetlands Bureau of DES Collis Adams has visited the site at least four or five times and much like Rendall, said that there is no way to tell how certain wetlands will be impacted, and how the Adder-Hole, which runs to the town beach, will be impacted without a full season of hydrology tests.

Adams said that the School Board's dredge and fill application would be held off until a hydrology study was completed and wetland boundaries are delineated over the next year, meaning the School Board's plan to add five athletic fields to the Meadows, which will cover 17 contiguous acres of 61.9 acres including a 1,700 sq. foot concession stand on the site, will be delayed until next year. An underground irrigation system for drainage has been proposed by the School Board as well to address flooding issues.

The DES has deferred their prior dredge and fill application from the School Board and asks that a full growing season be used for hydrology tests, to further evaluate wetland delineations, and to monitor and collect various data. Collis said that the site study should be completed for next spring, and that impacts on the flood plain and engineering issues can be addressed afterwards. The DES won't issue the permit until this has been demonstrated, said Adams.

"I understand this is an important project for the community, but in order to keep harmony in the community we have got to make sure to do it right…with hydrology testing for next spring," said Adams.

Martin Lord Osman
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