Opinions on Sprague’s Cove Divided

Marion Board of Selectmen on August 18 witnessed firsthand how divided residents and interested parties are over the root cause and future remediation of Sprague’s Cove, which resulted in a vote to take more time to digest the information before deciding on who should have control over the site. Until then, selectmen are holding onto their authority over the property.

The board and about 50 residents alike heard two conflicting presentations by the Marion Conservation Commission and the Marion Open Spaces Acquisition Commission (MOSAC). They also heard advice from phragmite expert Dr. John Teal of Rochester, who also serves on the Rochester Conservation Commission.

By now, most Marionites know what a phragmite is. The invasive and non-native species of wetlands vegetation is increasingly invading and occupying wetlands all over the Southcoast, choking out indigenous species of wetlands vegetation and wreaking havoc on the biodiversity of sensitive wetlands habitats.

Efforts to thwart the spread of the unwelcome invaders have been a losing battle thus far across affected areas and, as Teal pointed out during his presentation to familiarize selectmen with the Tao of the phragmite, there is only one way to eradicate them: diligent repeated applications of herbicide, and even that can sometimes fail to defeat the phrags’ assault on ponds, swamps, marshes, and beaches.

In its own attempt to spare Sprague’s Cove from succumbing to phragmites, a wetland was constructed in 1995 to counteract fecal bacteria contamination of Silvershell Beach from storm water runoff, and the ConCom back in 2012 authorized an outside agency to mow down much of the phragmites at the site, causing some outrage from concerned residents in the vicinity because of the aesthetic alteration to the area.

Norman Mills, on behalf on the ConCom, gave a slideshow presentation on the past, present, and proposed future of Sprague’s Cove.

Mills said the phragmites are restricting the water flow of the natural filtration system, reducing the biodiversity of the cove, and they have “destroyed what was put down there originally in 1995.”

“MOSAC is well-equipped to control maintenance of invasive species,” said Mills after emphasizing that Town Meeting this year struck down an article that would fund the ConCom’s effort to control the phragmites. “MOSAC has done nothing to control invasive species…”

The ConCom’s recommendation for the future of Sprague’s Cove, as presented by Mills, is “to continue the way it is right now,” enlisting the help of volunteers in order to restore the wetlands to “the way people remember way back when it started,” eliciting a quiet chuckle from MOSAC Chairman John Rockwell seated in the audience, awaiting his turn to address selectmen and residents. Mills admitted that the ConCom “probably overstepped its boundaries” when it had the phrags mowed.

“We went in too quickly,” said Mills, and without the input of the community. “Whatever the selectmen decide is fine.” Mills said the ConCom prefers to “be proactive, but passive and leave it alone.”

Rockwell, also a wetlands specialist, contends that the problem with the drainage of Sprague’s Cove stems not with the phragmites, but with a clogged six-inch drainage pipe that has diminished 40% of the system’s capacity to filter through water, and what needs to be done is to snake the clogged pipe to open it up again and devise a maintenance plan, involving several interested parties who will agree upon the plan. He added that there has been a history of issues with the drainage throughout the years.

Phragmites, he said, have been used in the past as a preferred soil erosion inhibitor and what is happening here in Marion is the result of aesthetic concerns.

“They don’t like the way it looks,” said Rockwell. He said, although phrags are one of his concerns overall, he limits that concern to the more pristine areas of Marion that phragmites have yet to invade. Otherwise, the futile battle to remove phragmites is not the best way the town can spend its money, according to Rockwell.

Toward the end of the public discussion, despite Board of Selectmen Chairman Jonathan Henry’s statement that the time would not be used to pin blame on either side of the issue, there was a bit of mudslinging nonetheless.

Some wondered that if Rockwell knew of the drainage issue in the past, why he did not bring it up. Rockwell maintained that he had informed someone, but no action was taken. He said MOSAC would not undertake the remediation of Sprague’s Cove unless the selectmen voted to hand the authority over to MOSAC.

“And now the selectmen hold the bag, and it’s probably a bag they don’t really want to hold,” said Rockwell.

ConCom member Stephen Gonsalves had a hard time wrapping his head around the drainage pipe, rather than the phragmites, being the main problem with the functioning of Sprague’s Cove.

Accompanying MOSAC was the engineer of the original plan for Sprague’s Cove, Bernadette Taber, who stated that phragmites would do “just as good of a job” of filtering water as the native species that were originally planted at the site.

“It doesn’t affect how this system right now is functioning,” said Taber.

“I’m no lover of phragmites … I’ve killed plenty,” said Rockwell. “It just shouldn’t be done under the guise of making the basin work.”

Selectman Jody Dickerson said he heard a lot of information that night and needed more time to process, do more research, and preferred to table the matter until the next meeting.

“At this point, I’m not certain how that should come out,” said Henry. He said he heard both arguments and “it could go both ways.”

Resident Annie Rockwell interrupted a vote to introduce a petition of 162 signatures in favor of handing authority of Sprague’s Cove to MOSAC.

Another resident, Sandra Parsons, addressed the selectmen and asked to have her signature stricken from the petition. She said after learning more about the situation that evening, she was no longer sure if she preferred MOSAC to manage the site.

“The jury is out for me,” said Parsons, “because I have new things to think about.”

Rockwell interjected one final time to suggest that funding phragmite removal at Sprague’s Cove was not the wisest way to use Town funds.

“It’s not a good use of town money,” said Rockwell, emphasizing that his opinion had nothing to do with how he personally felt about phragmites.

By Jean Perry


New Playgrounds Open in Marion

New Playgrounds at Washburn Park and Point Road are now open! The construction was completed within a week. Marion Recreation would like to give special thanks to the Marion Department of Public Works for assisting the department. If you haven’t been to either playground yet, now is the time to check them out!


A Latin-American Festival

The Marion Concert Band will present a concert of Latin-American music on Friday, August 22. To add to the festive atmosphere of the evening, the audience is invited to wear tropical or Latin-American attire. The program, which includes a trombone soloist, is as follows:

“La Bonita” (Spanish March)

“Mexican Overture” by M. J. Isaac

“Montego Bay” (samba) by S. Nestico

“Caribbean Rondo” by P. La Plante

“Brasilia” by R. Dewhurst

Kevin Kane, trombone

“Brazilian Festival” by A. C. Jobim

“Danzon” by L. Bernstein

“Spanish Flea” by J. Wechter

“Malagueña” by E. Lecuona

“Mas Que Nada” by J. Ben

“Serenata” by L. Anderson

“Cantico” by A. Grayson

“Copacabana” by J. Feldman

“Commandante (Marche Espagnole)” by G. Guentzel

Kevin Kane, trombone soloist, is currently on the faculties of Rhode Island College, Providence College and Roger Williams University. In addition to being a free-lance trombone and euphonium player, he has performed with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Concordia Brass Quintet, the Narragansett Brass Quintet and the American Band of Providence, RI. Mr. Kane has been principal trombone of the Marion Concert Band since 2006.

The concert, under the direction of Tobias Monte, will begin at 7:00 pm at the Robert Broomhead Bandstand, Island Wharf off Front Street in Marion. All concerts are free and open to the public.

Thank You from the Library

To the Editor:

The Mattapoisett Free Public Library would like to thank Michelle and Jon Pope of Uncle Jon’s Coffee for their continued support. The Uncle Jon’s family has been very generous with donations that help us provide our patrons with great educational and entertaining programming. Most recently, Uncle Jon’s helped make our summer reading program a huge success with the young adults of our community. The library is always grateful for the support of local institutions like Uncle Jon’s to aid us in our effort to make the library a vibrant community center all year long.

Thank you again from all of us at The Mattapoisett Free Public Library.


The views expressed in the “Letters to the Editor” column are not necessarily those of The Wanderer, its staff or advertisers. The Wanderer will gladly accept any and all correspondence relating to timely and pertinent issues in the great Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester area, provided they include the author’s name, address and phone number for verification. We cannot publish anonymous, unsigned or unconfirmed submissions. The Wanderer reserves the right to edit, condense and otherwise alter submissions for purposes of clarity and/or spacing considerations. The Wanderer may choose to not run letters that thank businesses, and The Wanderer has the right to edit letters to omit business names. The Wanderer also reserves the right to deny publication of any submitted correspondence.

Captain Shirley G. Mitchell Jr.

Captain Shirley G. Mitchell Jr., age 97, of Fairhaven, passed away Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at his residence. He was the husband of Doris A. (Johnson) Mitchell to whom he has been married for the past 65 years.

Born in Fairhaven, the son of the late Shirley G. Mitchell Sr. and Mary “Mollie” Mitchell, he was a lifelong resident of Fairhaven.

A graduate of Fairhaven High School, he attended the Sperry Gyro Compass School of New York. He worked in the fishing industry as a Boat Captain. He was also in the Merchant Marines for the Moore-McCormick Line. Prior to having the 70 foot fishing vessel “Lubenray” built, he had smaller fishing boats and also worked on luxury sail and power boats. After a long career as a Fisherman, he became the Captain of a Research Vessel for the state of Massachusetts for twenty years until his retirement.

A Mason and Shriner for many years, Captain Mitchell was a member of the Unitarian Memorial Church of Fairhaven.

Surviving in addition to his wife, one daughter: Sheila G. Mitchell of Marion, two sons: Stuart G. Mitchell of Rochester, Alan J. Mitchell of Plymouth, three grandchildren: Abby, Mollie, and Melanie Mitchell and many nieces and nephews. He was brother of the late Robert A. Mitchell and Jane Burns.

Private arrangements are in the care of the Waring-Sullivan Home of Memorial Tribute at Fairlawn in Fairhaven. For tributes, please visit: www.waring-sullivan.com

Mosquito Spraying in Marion Wednesday

Plymouth County Mosquito Control will be conducting ground spraying before sunrise on Wednesday morning in Marion.  Residents may wish to close their windows prior to spraying.

From the Mattapoisett Town Clerk

The deadline to register to vote or change your party designation for the upcoming primary election is Wednesday, August 20. Our office will be open from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm on that day. The primary will be held on Tuesday, September 9 at Old Hammondtown School, which is located at 20 Shaw Street. The polls will be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Absentee ballots have been mailed out to those who requested them. Absentee ballots and applications for absentee ballots are available in the office between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. If you have a child going off to college or you are going to be away for the upcoming election(s) in September and/or November, please stop by today so that you will not miss out on the opportunity to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming elections. If you have any questions regarding this, please call the Town Clerk’s Office at 508-758-4100 ext 2.

Digging for Buried Treasure

The August 20 meeting of the Rochester Historical Society will feature Metal Detecting by Bob St. Onge and Tom Smith of the Gateway Treasure Hunters Club of Wareham. A demonstration of proper methods of using a metal detector to find buried treasure will begin at 6:30 pm at the East Rochester Church/Museum, 355 County Rd. A brief meeting and refreshments will follow the demo. All are welcome.

Old Rochester Little League 2015 Registration

Come be a part of Little League Baseball! Registration is now open for the 2015 season. Parents are encouraged to register their children early. To register, visit the league website at orll.net and click on the pink box under the masthead. The league will hold winter hitting sessions at The Cage in Marion for all 9-12 year olds, which will start prior to December, and only players registered for the 2015 season will be able to participate in the Winter Hitting Sessions.

Old Rochester Little League will be holding Major League and Minor League tryouts/evaluations for the 2015 Season.

This evaluation is for players looking to move up to Minors from AAA or up to Majors from Minors. Players who played on an ORLL Majors team in 2014 do not need to attend the evaluation. Players who wish to stay in the Minors after playing in the ORLL minors in 2014 don’t need to attend the Minors evaluation.

If your son or daughter was a call-up at some point during the season, he/she will need to attend these tryouts/evaluations. Any player who will be 12 year old for the 2015 season, but did not play in the Majors in 2014, will play in Majors (Mandatory 12s); however, he/she must be evaluated on August 23 to ensure proper team placement (Mandatory 12 yr. old players are those players who turn 12 by April 30, 2015 and who did not play in the Majors in 2014).

Eligible players for the Majors include children who are 9-12 years old as of April 30, 2015. If your son or daughter is interested in playing in ORLL at the Major League level, they must attend the following tryout/evaluation. If your son or daughter can’t attend the August 23, he/she should go to the Minors evaluation on August 30 and contact ORLL President Derek Mello at southeastmaumpires@gmail.com.

Majors Eval: Saturday, August 23 at Dexter Lane in Rochester, MA on Field 3 at 6:00 pm.

Eligible players for the Minors include children who are 8-11 years old as of April 30, 2015. If your son or daughter is interested in playing in ORLL at the Minor League level, he/she must attend the following tryout/evaluation (if your son or daughter can’t attend on Aug. 30, they should contact ORLL President Derek Mello at southeastmaumpires@gmail.com).

Minors Eval: Saturday, August 30 at Dexter Lane in Rochester, MA on Field 3 at 6:00 pm.

All players should come ready to play with cleats, a baseball hat, and a baseball glove. They should also bring their batting helmet and bat if they have their own. Helmets and bats will be provided for those that need them.

Failure to attend one of these tryouts could impact where your son or daughter plays in the 2015 baseball season. If you have any questions or concerns, please email the ORLL League President at southeastmaumpires@gmail.com.

Rochester Country Fair 2014

We had a great time at the Rochester Country Fair this weekend, did you? Photos by Jean Perry and Camden Gaspar.

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