Vassalboro Conservation Commission minutes 12/23/2021 (in person at Vassalboro Friends Meetinghouse)

Present: Steve Jones, Peggy Horner, Holly Weidner (Chair), Paul Mitnik (via phone)

Regrets: David Jenney

Old Business:

1) Eagle Park proposal: This was presented at the Select Board meeting on 11/18/2021. Gene Fields and his crew were thanked for their work on Phase 1 of the proposal. Verbally, the board gave support with the idea and the green light to work with Mary Sabin and Gene Field to start the part of Phase 2 (that would require no funds) and to submit the funding needed to complete Phase 2 in the 2022 budget accepted by Select Board. ( See attached Rte. 32 Proposed use)

Action: Confirm with Mary that VCC can start working with Gene (Holly). Then set up a time with Gene, Steve, Holly and Paul to discuss the next steps for Phase 2 (Steve).

2) China Regional Lake Alliance budget proposal for 2022: Steve Pierz, CRLA, sent us an updated version of the FY2022-3 budget that we had reviewed with him at the last meeting; we reviewed the proposal and generally agreed with the proposal. There were questions about what was included in some of the line items. (See Attachment).
Paul is signed up to be the Lake Smart “evaluator” for Webber Pond and Three Mile Pond. Steve works with some of the Lake Smart projects.

Action: Contact S. Pierz to clarify line items (Holly); Discuss programs, proposal with Lake Associations and ask for letters of support if they are in agreement. Start preliminary discussion with Budget Committee when appropriate (Paul, Holly)

Because the VCC has reviewed the CRLA request and is evaluating how the town can work together with CRLA to promote healthy, water quality for our lakes, the VCC considered whether to 1) make a direct recommendation for CRLA projects to the budget committee and the board and 2) put this amount under the VCC budget.

Action: VCC will check with Mary to see if there are any unforeseen problems in this. (Holly)

Action: Check on data/stats on effect of water quality on property values (Paul)

3) Review Open space Action plan from Oct 2021 mtg :

a. Beginning with Habitat Maps are available on line for review whenever needed for reference e.g. reviewing subdivision or development project by the Planning
Board; Hard copies are available in the Code enforcement officer’s office
b. Review of Select Board minutes from October mtg: Browne had some concern about private open space becoming less available for public access; also interest expressed by board on the wisdom of revisiting a Comprehensive Plan toward land use rather than the “piecemeal” ordinances that are arising. The town did pass a Strategic Plan in 2006 that expressed what people did agree that they wanted in a plan. (See Town website). The Select Board is considering checking with more town people to get a sense of whether it is time to revisit a Comprehensive Plan.

Action: Contact Mary to let her and Select Board know that VCC would support having a town wide plan that would address balancing preservation of open spaces (forests, farmland, fields, and wetlands) with development. (Holly)

New Business:

1) Quarry Rd contamination site: Statler Paper used this quarry as a dumping site for their wastes. It is known to be a potential Super fund site. Select Board mentioned an interest in getting this site cleaned up. Board member Redmond planned to investigate.

Action: VCC supports the board investigating what the town can do to get state or feds to clean up this site. (Peggy will follow up with Redmond).

2) Update on “Forever Chemicals”, PFAS: Because of the concerns in central Maine with the PFAS contamination of wells, soil, ground water from the spreading of sludge from sanitary districts onto farms, Holly reviewed what is known from the Kennebec Water District and the state DEP/EPA. KWD has been doing PFAS levels every 6 months for a number of years and has found very low, consistent levels whether it was from the East or West Basin of China Lake or from the tap water (filtered KWD water). They also had reviewed a listing from the State of all sites in Vassalboro that had permits for spreading sludge. Only 2 farms had requested a permit from Portland area and it was unclear if any spreading had occurred. Most farms in the area spread their own manure and not sludge.
Maine DEP site for more info on PFAs:
Sites where DEP /EPA is monitoring for PFAs:
Submitted Holly Weidner