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Oak Hill Road resident questions Wakefield selectmen on road paving

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
June 28, 2012
WAKEFIELD — Cheryl Donahue met by appointment with the Wakefield Board of Selectmen on June 13 to express her concerns about paving plans for Oak Hill Road, a gravel road that connects Witchtrot Road with Route 109 South on the other side of Lovell Lake.

Donahue said she has lived on the road for 20 years and had heard that the town plans to pave the road, which she felt would lead to people driving faster. She said she bought her house because it was on a dirt road.

Selectman Chair Ken Paul, who also lives on Oak Hill Road, explained that the plan is to pave the half-mile steep section of the 2.6-mile road and two entrance aprons to reduce maintenance costs. Paving the two entrances reduces the kickout of gravel on Witchtrot Road and Route 109. Too much erosion reduces Oak Hill Road to one lane at times. The town did a traffic count a few years ago and there is much more traffic than expected. "As soon as you go over 2,000 trips, paving is the way to go," he said.

Donahue said there are only 25 homes on the road. Paul responded that there are another 35 on Pond Road, which runs off of Oak Hill.

Donahue asked if there was anything else short of paving that could be done, such as use stronger materials. She cited the example of Berry Road, which was a problem until crushed rock was used to "stiffen" the road.

Paul pointed out that there will still be two miles of gravel road after the paving is done. "My main concern is the hill, which can be dangerous. We have lost trucks on that hill when they failed to make it to the top.

Donahue questioned the cost of the paving. She said she went to a Budget Committee hearing on Willey Road where the cost was $170,000 $17,000 a year.

Paul said the town spends $3,000 a year for Oak Hill Road just to keep the dust down. Annual maintenance on Oak Hill is "easily $17,000" he said.

Selectman Charlie Edwards said the hill sections are "just ledge, but the rest of the road is fine." He added that he lives on a dirt road too, Leighton Corner Road, which has a paved section that has lasted for years.

Selectman Peter Kasprzyk suggested the board consider putting a weight limit on the road.

Edwards objected to the weight limit idea: "We shouldn't be limiting the ability of a guy making truck payments to make a living." He added that "75 percent of people in town are in the construction business."

Donahue said banning through trucks would be better.

Town Administration Teresa Williams said she would need to check with the Local Government Center to see what's involved in setting limits on the road.

The road discussion was followed by the opening of paving bids for the road. F.R. Carroll of Limerick, Maine was awarded the contract based on a bid of $58,779. It was noted by the contractor's representative that the total can be lower if the entrance aprons were reduced. He pointed out that the bid was based on 295 feet aprons.

Donahue asked if the aprons could be reduced to 50 feet.

Paul responded that Road Agent Ed Clough should be consulted first. He said he would ask Clough to spray the road to show where the paving will start and stop.

Edwards told Donahue she could come to the next selectmen's meeting in two weeks, on June 27, after seeing where the paving will be.

Balch Pond milfoil grant

Lee Willson, President of the Balch Lake Improvement Committee and his wife Anne, who is the association's secretary, submitted a request for $3,500 from the town's Invasive Species Capital Reserve. Balch is the seventh lake association to request funds to fight milfoil: on May 23 the board approved a total of $20,500 in milfoil grants for the other six lakes.

Lee Willson said the total cost for milfoil treatment on Balch will be $13,975, which includes water testing. N.H. Department of Environmental Services (DES) for 30 additional acres of milfoil to treat in the Stump Pond area of the lake, where there was a sawmill years ago. "Milfoil loves sawdust," Willson said. The warm winter and early spring gave the milfoil a head start this year.

So far divers using the association's Divers Assisted Suction Harvester (DASH) boat have pulled out 15,000 pounds of milfoil working two days a week. Four of the five divers are Balch residents working for $20 an hour vs. $85 an hour for outside divers.

The $3,500 will allow the DASH boat and divers to run for a third day from June through mid-October.

Willson thanked the town for its past support which helped purchase and repair the DASH boat. Even though a large part of the lake is in Maine, neither Acton nor Newfield has contributed anything to the milfoil efforts this year, Willson reported, though they did agree to fix the dam. The State of Maine used to contribute $500 a year for boat inspections but that was reduced to $385 this year. The State of New Hampshire has not given anything in recent years.

Williams noted that the Board of Selectmen will have to hold a public hearing to disburse the $3,500 requested. The date of the hearing was set for July 11, the next selectmen's meeting.

Garnett Hill
Salmon Press
Parker Village
Martin Lord Osman
Northern Human Services
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