Vassalboro Conservation Commission minutes December 14, 2022

Present: Peggy Horner (ZOOM), Steve Jones, David Jenney, Holly Weidner (chair).

Absent: Paul Mitnik, John Reuthe

Old business:

November meeting minutes were approved 11-20-2022 after an on -line review from members.

  1. PFAS update: After our November meeting, Chris Bagley , senior project manager for the contracted agency for DEP told Mary Sabin that they would be glad to have help from the town to contact the landowners that would be affected (within 1000 feet of the target properties) . David Jenney and Rick Denico (select board) among others, did some initial contacting and the town put up a notice on about the PFAS. Here is the link to the latest Maine DEP PFAS info
    There has been no other info that has come to our committee since Nov 16th. Other than a landowner who had his well-tested and was awaiting results.
    Action: Peggy will contact Chris Bagley to see how he is doing with contacting all possible landowners and to see how we can assist. Holly will check with Mary to see if she has received any other info.
  2. Webber Pond water quality monitoring: update (John Reuthe reported by email): He presented a request for water monitoring equipment and equipment storage building to the select board in November. They were reluctant to provide town funds for private landowner use. According to their website, WPA has applied for 501c3 status to be able to get grants and funding in the future. They would like to have a gathering of Webber Pond Water Quality stakeholders meeting in approx. Jan 25 -26 when there is a new town manager.
    Action: Holly will attend the stakeholder meeting; other VCC members are welcome
    The water levels on the lakes are high due in large part to the amount of rain falling all fall. The goal is 20 inches below the spill way by ice formation.
  3. Maine Association of Conservation Commissions: the dues for the year were submitted via Mary.
    Action: VCC will encourage at least one of our members to go the annual meeting fall 2023.
  4. Eagle Park: We discussed some grants that might be available in 2023: the Project Canopy Assistance Grant and a National Park Service grant for outdoor recreation. The former requires a person from the requesting municipality to attend the application workshop usually held the end of January. We would consider applying for trees along the road but if they also allow other permanent plantings, then we would include that.
    Action: Holly will check the specks on that grant and decide if we should send someone for the workshop in January as well as whether funds can be used over a 2 year period and for plantings other than trees. We may consider not applying until next year.
    Peggy had done a quick review of the latter grant that mostly is funding large projects of land acquisition and requires a pre application review with the director by December 31st for smaller projects. There was a discussion about the general problem of not having a town wide plan for preservation of land for recreation and conservation. Making it difficult to obtain grants.
    Action: Request a date with new town manager to introduce ourselves and our current projects and discuss the need for town wide comprehensive plan to be able to be eligible for grants and to have financial support of town for planning.
  5. Recycling report: Amy Davidoff, chair, submitted a report from the Solid Waste Sustainability subcommittee. She gave a summary of the Municipal Review Committee annual meeting that occurred today, Dec 14. They reviewed the history of the Hampden facility now called the Municipal Waste Solutions. The MRC hopes to close on a deal early next year with a prospective partner, a NY state investment firm, Revere Capital Partner. The latter is working on DEP permits, an engineering report on startup of the plant and maintaining its successful operation. The firm plans to expand uses of the solid waste by turning it into pulp, natural gas and briquettes. If the deal with the firm doesn’t go through, then the MRC is developing contingency plans for its own financing to start up the plant.
    During the public discussion: towns wondered about recycling their glass which might reduce the weight of solid waste being sent to the plant. The new owners, Revere, say that glass hasn’t been marketable so they may renegotiate the weight commitments of each municipality. This would happen after the facility becomes operational.
    Mary has been attending and following the progress of these changes. It isn’t clear what the new town manager’s interest is in this.
    Action: VCC will add this to our agenda to talk over with the town manager.
    The SWSC also had talked with the town of China about recycling of glass, #2 plastic (milk bottles) mixed paper, and tin/aluminum. China told them that they welcome Vassalboro residents recycling these items at their transfer station. It was noted by the VCC that Vassalboro already recycles metal and corrugated cardboard. Also Waterville Recycles on Armory Rd, take newspaper, office paper, most hard plastics and glass.
    Action: VCC encourages the SWSC and any other groups to educate the town about the options for improving town recycling.

    Next meeting: second Wednesday, January 11, 6:30 pm at the Town office
    Respectfully submitted, Holly Weidner, chair