Derry to consider town meeting on Lowell Lake

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

Londonderry Conservation Committee chair Irwin Kuperberg came to the Derry  Select Board on Aug. 19 asking for an endorsement of the committee’s Lowell Lake position. While Kuperberg did not get what he wanted, he didn’t come away empty handed.

Irwin Kuperberg asks the board to endorse the conservation committee’s position on the proposed Lowell Lake project. Photos by Shawn Cunningham unless otherwise noted.

After recounting a number of the objections to portions of the project proposed by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and noting that the Windham and Weston conservation commissions have endorsed the Derry commission’s position, Kuperberg said it was time for the Select Board to “take a stand.”

Saying that the public is overwhelmingly against opening the park to overnight visitors and expanded parking, Kuperberg asked the board to make that stance the position of the town.

Board member Bob Forbes said he was uncomfortable taking a position on the question and was “inclined to put an article up for a vote at Town Meeting.”

Board member Bob Forbes suggests that a town vote has more authority than a select board vote. Photo by Bruce Frauman

“That gives everyone a chance to express an opinion,” said Forbes. “After that, as a select board member I’d feel comfortable to say ‘this is the position of the town.’ ”

Forbes suggested that a town vote would carry more weight than that of the board.

Kuperberg asserted that the plans are moving forward rapidly and that Town Meeting in March may be too late.

Board chair Jim Ameden said that, according to a representative of FPR, no decision has been made yet on what it will do with Lowell Lake.

“That’s questionable,” replied Kuperberg pointing to internal documents obtained through the Public Records Act that he said shows the agency’s true intentions.

Board member George Mora said she was trying to “wrap my head around” people who work for the the Agency of Natural Resources as well as Forests Parks and Recreation colluding to destroy a sensitive environment like Lowell Lake.

Board member George Mora questions the idea that there is a hidden agenda at the state agencies running the park

“It just doesn’t add up for me,” said Mora

Kuperberg said the agencies were not trying to deliberately destroy the place, but to change the experience and introduce more recreation to more people.

Board chair Jim Ameden told Kuperberg that the lake has been changing for 46 years. Ameden said he remembers hiking through the woods with a boat before there was a road. “People are coming, the crowds are bigger than they’ve ever been and I think they are trying to control the crowds. It’s not a secret anymore,” said Ameden. “They’re trying to manage the inevitable.”

“The numbers don’t add up, just on the parking spaces alone,” said Kuperberg, who asserted that expanding the parking is not going to control crowding.

Kuperberg asked if there was a mechanism for having a Town Meeting sooner and was told he could petition it with signatures of 10 percent of the town’s voters. In fact, a petition for a special meeting actually requires just 5 percent of the voter checklist.

The board voted to put a discussion of holding a special Town Meeting about the Lowell Lake plans on a future agenda.

Homeowners can opt out of photo posting

Lister Sandra Clark tells the board there has been only one complaint about a photo being part of the real property card online Photo by Bruce Frauman

The board agreed to allow property owners to opt out of having photos of their homes posted on line. Lister Sandra Clark had returned to the board to continue the discussion begun at the board’s July 17 meeting. At that time, only three board members were present and the board thought it best to wait for a full board to make any decision.

At the earlier meeting, Clark told the board that the property record cards kept by the listers had been put online by the New England Municipal Resource Center as part of a contract with Londonderry, but that a property owner had complained about having a photo of the house online.

Clark reiterated that the information about properties is public and is used by banks, lawyers, real estate firms and others to do their work. Having the information online cuts down on the requests that listers receive but when the complaint was received the cards were taken down.

According to Clark, the photos can be taken down through NEMRC, but so far she has only received one complaint.

“We’ve paid for this,” said Clark referring to the contracted service. The board then voted to authorize putting the cards back online while allowing property owners to opt out of having photos published.

State to look at Flood Brook speed limit

The town has received a letter from VTrans traffic engineer Ian Degutis saying that the Vermont Traffic Committee will take up the town’s request for a school speed limit at the Flood Brook Elementary School. After looking at the situation, Degutis said the traffic operations unit is recommending keeping the speed limit at 50 mph. But, he added, he would also recommend the addition of flashing lights with advance warning signs approaching the school.

Forbes noted that the letter says that the town would share in the cost of the flashing lights but that the town no longer owns the school or its property. Board members felt the cost of installing and maintaining signs in the state right of way should be paid for by the state, although there was also discussion of the shared costs being picked up by the school.

Degutis’ letter also noted that VTrans had recently issued a work order to install additional school signs on both sides of the Rt. 11 as well as “Watch for turning vehicles” signs.

While the traffic operations unit is recommending against a change in the speed limit, the traffic committee has the final say and will consider the request at its Thursday, Aug. 28 meeting in Barre. The board voted to have Mora and Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe attend the hearing on behalf of the town.

Water/Wastewater process continues

O‘Keefe told the board that four companies – DuBois & King, Dufresne Group, Otter Creek Engineering and Stone Environmental – had responded to the Request for Qualifications for a wastewater feasibility study. He asked the board to appoint several people, including a board member, to review the qualifications, interview the companies and make a recommendation to the board. The board agreed unanimously.

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