Vassalboro Conservation Commission
September 11, 2007
Commission meeting was held at the firehouse at 7:00 pm.
Present were Holly Weidner, Steve Jones, Paul Mitnik, David Jenney, Chad Arms, Mary Ellen Johnston. Absent were Don Robbins, Laughlin Titus, Charlie Hartman.
The minutes from the August meeting were accepted.
Discussion of the Commission’s structure and official status:
We re-capped some of the points and conclusions drawn at the August meeting regarding the Commission, which included:
1. The Town of Vassalboro has not officially created the Commission, according to the process laid out in the guide for the Maine Conservation Commission Association. This would involve developing an ordinance and then having the Selectmen place an article on the town meeting warrant next summer. Right now we are a committee, approved by the Selectmen, but not voted on by the town. To be able to do the things proposed in the Strategic Plan, we will need to become an official Commission. We are still getting our feet wet, no projects and lots to learn, so there is time for all this. It was suggested that we spend some time with the Selectmen to begin working towards this goal.
2. Voting: Should we make decisions by consensus, by a simple majority vote, or some other means? After discussion, we decided to pose the question to our October guests
( Theresa Kershner, Jerry Bley) : “ How do other organizations do it?”
3. Communications: We have tried using the town web site and David Jenney offered to set up a free web forum where we could log in and see the meeting minutes. We discussed contacting the media to do a story about the Conservation Commission, once we have some activity to talk about. We will also develop a brochure with information for property owners about tools for conserving and protecting their lands. We do not have a budget to do these things, so we need suggestions, donations, or free labor!
4. Guest Speakers: While we are in a learning mode, we want to continue to invite people to our meetings so we can learn about techniques used to protect natural resources, and organizational issues that we need to address. We will invite Theresa Kerschner to our October meeting. She is on the Kennebec Land Trust and also serves on the Readfield Conservation Commission.
Other items discussed:
Kennebec River Initiative, a brief up-date from Paul Mitnik. We may need a sub-committee to deal with the river access point being considered. Guilford Railroad owns the property and crossing their tracks has to be worked out. Paul will continue to work with the Kennebec Soil and Water District.
Outlet Stream: Charlie Hartman and Don Robbins were not present, so Paul Mitnik indicated that he would somehow get them together to review the process now in place for the town to raise or lower the lake level.
The remainder of the meeting was spent looking over maps of the natural resources of Vassalboro, done in 2005 for the All About Habitat project. These maps help us to see where the properties are that have both the potential for development and for conservation. No new projects have been suggested so we will continue to study and learn and work with the KLT and other conservation groups when the opportunity arises.
Holly Weidner announced that there is a Trails Committee meeting on the 18th to discuss sidewalks in East Vassalboro, so some Commission members may want to attend.
The October meeting will be held on the 16th due to the availability of the guest speakers.
Mary Ellen Johnston