Vassalboro Conservation Commission October 21st, 2021 6:30 pm at the Vassalboro Friends Meetinghouse 46 S Stanley Hill Road and Zoom

Present: Steve Jones, Paul Mitnik, Peggy Horner, Holly Weidner, Helen Cates Devoe on Zoom initially

Regrets: David Jenney

Old Business:

1) VCC minutes were not being uploaded to the town website since June 2020 from a misunderstanding that the submitted minutes were not approved. It has been the practice of the VCC to review , correct and approve minutes the week after each meeting by email and then to submit them to the town manager. Town Manager was notified and all missing minutes since June 2020 will be uploaded.
2) Monument Park update: The fishing dock was removed for the winter this week along with the boat dock and the picnic tables by Vassalboro’s public works. There was daily usage of the dock from what an abutter witnessed. The original split rail fence along the western border of Rte. 32 is being restored. Steve, Holly and John Melrose are working on that in consultation with the Historical Society.

New Business:

1) Maine Conservation Commission annual meeting: Peggy reported on the meeting and a number of considerations were raised for VCC to discuss.

a. Add historical info about the trail and Vassalboro to kiosks at public trailheads.
b. A Maine survey reported on what form of recreation people did outside: results: 69% hiked, 29% walked, 37% biked, 14% did team sports, 11% hunted. Other activities on the survey include skiing, skating, horseback riding, etc. Action: the town may want to look at where we are placing our recreational funding; we may ask Trail Committee how are we promoting the present trails;
c. The main topic of the MEACC was about the economic advantages of Open Space to towns. Examples were: increased home value the closer a home is to an open space area; an individual’s health care cost go down as they increase exercise.
1) Review the Beginning with Habitat Maps and update the list that was developed by the Trail/VCC in the past of public open spaces, large animal corridors, tree growth and farms. (Paul and David?)
2) Review the Open Space economic presentation given at the MEACC to see what might be helpful for the Select Board to understand as we review how to support open space preservation and which open spaces might be worth the town preserving. (Peggy)
3)Be aware of subdivision or other development projects that are within an environmentally sensitive area Ask the Code Enforcement Officer to send Planning Board Agenda to the VCC so that we can see if there is anything coming up that may be of interest to the Town’s resources; (Paul)
4) Gather data on the economic advantages of open space to Vassalboro specifically. (Peggy and then all)

2) Update on Rte 32 town tax acquired lots: Steve reported on recommendations from the ad hoc committee of Steve, Paul and Holly . Goal is to create public recreation area for picnic, stream-side fishing, and bird watching with minimal maintenance using in-house and volunteer labor. Tentative name: Eagle Park (this is a favorite place for eagles to hang out and fish but also osprey, Great Blue heron). The initial layout would have a small covered pavilion for 2 picnic tables, a walkway down to the stream, some boulders or riprap at the high water mark to stand on, a privy and a hammerhead designed parking lot for 6 cars. If grants were obtained, in the future we might also include an observation/fishing platform, along with another pavilion on the smaller lot. Initial work would also include cleaning up the area along the high water mark for better visibility and removal of invasive species using Lake Smart erosion control and maintaining or planting native species. Permits would need to be obtained from DOT for the entrance to the parking area, from the Planning board for the privy and pavilion (no permanent structure can be within 100 ft of high water). We would not use the current water or septic on the property although they appear to be in working order.
Action: Steve will work on a sketch and Holly will work on estimated costs to submit to Mary to review and then to the Select Board in November
3) Report from Lake Smart presentation: Paul attended and reported he would like to volunteer to be the Webber Pond and Three Mile Pond Evaluator for Landowners who would like to consider improving their land for run off. He will check with the Webber Pond Association president (currently believed to be John Reuthe) and our contact Bob Nadeau to see if they would support him doing this and work with him to advertise this service to Webber Pond landowners. Paul would volunteer as a member of the VCC.
4) Spectacle Pond report: Paul has maintained a trail from the Cross Hill Road entrance and would like it to be maintained by our town since the trail is within Vassalboro (the property is state owned). The VCC supports having the trail be part of the town’s trail system, and suggested he work with the Trail Committee and be sure that when work days are set up, that the VCC is sent a notice also.
5) Vassalboro Community School report: Holly noted that Helen Devoe can no longer take the VCC lead on helping the Vassalboro Community School to develop an outdoor curriculum, so we should be looking for a new member to the VCC with this interest in mind. There are both online curriculum that meet learning standards , and the School has some funding from COVID funds that could be used to hire a person to develop the program and apply for further grants. A few names were mentioned. Holly will follow up.
6) Prep for Nov. VCC mtg with CRLA director Scott Pierz (materials will be sent to VCC via email attachments to review prior to this mtg). Also a review of the spring 2021 minutes from the VCC mtg with Bob Nadeau with the overview of the CRLA will be helpful.
7) Our next meeting was scheduled to be November 18th but it looks like the Select Board has rescheduled their meeting to November 18th. We will find a new time for our next mtg with Scott Pierz.