An uncommon meeting venue

Sep 10, 2019 by

Published in the September 10, 2019 edition.

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — At last night’s first-ever meeting outdoors on the shores of Lake Quannapowitt, the Town Council’s agenda featured a number of items related, directly or indirectly, to the Lake and its environs. The meeting was held on the Lower Common, between the Bandstand and the Lake.

One of the items on last night’s agenda involved the formation of a yet another committee to study the Lake.

The new, seven-member committee will be charged with the ultimate goal of making Lake Quannapowitt swimmable and fishable. As described at last night’s meeting, this committee will be focused on the implementation of new strategies to improve the water quality of the Lake while being compliant with federal and state regulations.

The committee’s focus will also include improving stormwater solutions for Lake Quannapowitt as well as Crystal Lake and other waterways in town. The committee will also work to achieve better alignment and coordination between Department of Public Works and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) in order to  maximize impacts on improving water quality.

Town Council Chairman Edward Dombroski acknowledged the work of previous Lake committees, including the most recent 13-member committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen in early 2014 to study improving the Lake’s water quality. That committee, chaired by former Town Engineer Michael Collins, conducted a tremendous amount if research and testing but there was little consensus among its members when it came to solutions. That committee reported its findings to the Board of Selectmen in June 2016.

Dombroski said last night that the new committee will consider the work done by its predecessors while pursuing new grant funding opportunities and developing new connections with available local and regional resources. The work of this new committee is expected to be ongoing and extend over several years, Dombroski said.

As approved last night, the composition of the new committee will be as follows:

The Town Engineer, William Renault, ChairThe Town Environmental Manager, Claire MossA member of the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt (FOLQ)A member of the Conservation CommissionA member of the Environmental Sustainability CommitteeTwo representatives from the public to be appointed by the Town CouncilThe Town Council will publicly post and advertise seeking interested applicants to fill the two public slots.

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Also last night, members of the Conservation Commission appeared before the Town Council to provide an informal report on issues that they have been handling as well as initiatives that they are planning or would like to undertake.

Conservation Commission Chairman Jim Luciani was joined by commissioners Bob Romano and Teresa Belmonte as well as Conservation Agent Elaine Vreeland.

Luciani said that the ConCom is always interested in the welfare of the Lake and would like to see the invasive species cleaned up. The commission would also like to see access points for boaters and sailboarders limited to certain areas to limit damage to the banks of the Lake.

Luciani said that the ConCom would like to develop a public notification system for when Lake algae reaches high and potentially toxic levels.

One of the ongoing things that the ConCom has been working toward, Luciani said, is to identify and record the many walking trails throughout the town so that the public can make more use of them. He noted that several Boy Scouts have upgraded and maintained trails in Reedy Meadow and other areas as their Eagle Scout projects.

Another ConCom effort involves identifying town-owned open space areas that could be connected in some fashion to improve access between those areas.

Another ongoing ConCom effort is to improve and preserve wildlife corridors in town, Luciani said. He cited an example where the ConCom got a developer to agree to preserve a corridor used by wildlife moving between Breakheart reservation and Reedy Meadow.

The Commission members also entertained questions from Town Councilors. In response to one question, Luciani noted that at one time the Conservation Commission would occasionally meet in joint session with the Planning Board to discuss subdivisions or other matters. He suggested that reviving that practice might be beneficial.

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Also at last night’s meeting, the Town Council publicly recognized the work of two local organizations concerned with the Lake and surrounding areas: the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt and the Wakefield Center Neighborhood Association.

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