A $200,000 request from the Buzzards Bay Coalition to purchase 235 acres under a conservation easement was pushed away by the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen at their meeting on Tuesday evening.
Brendan Annett, representing the Buzzards Bay Coalition presented the five million dollar proposal to purchase the acreage for conservation, which includes agricultural, recreational and coastal usage and preserve land for future generations.
The 245 acres includes land in both Mattapoisett and Fairhaven which includes benefits to wildlife, agriculture to continue farming and offer more access, by foot or bike to
Buzzards Bay for residents and visitors.
Annett said that three of the five million will come from the federal government and possibly one million from the Bouchard Transportation Trust and other monies from state funding, but that the grant funders need and require that the local towns support the massive effort. Just last week, Fairhaven agreed to put the $200,000 funding on the town warrant for their next town meeting.
Siting concerns around the funding of local projects, including replacing the tennis courts near Center School, both Selectmen Jordan Collyer and Tyler Macallister said that the town doesn’t have the money to contribute to the BBC’s effort to purchase the land.
Selectmen also cited the deterioration of the town piers and that local projects must take precedence.
“Taking 235 acres off the tax rolls is an issue,” said Collyer. “This drives up the cost of buildable lots.”
Macallister and the other members sympathized with Annett and said they felt the project was worthy, but wanted to know if a lower amount would show the federal and state funders that Mattapoisett was onboard and supported the project.
“Would $25,000, $30,000, or $100,000, if we could find that somewhere in town…would that show that we supported this project,” asked Macallister.
Arnett said that this project was the number four promoted project in the United States by the United States Department of Agriculture, but that due to budget cuts, only the top two projects were funded.
Town Administrator Michael Gagne asked the board if he could look into alternative funding, whatever that might be. The board agreed to have Gagne research the funding alternatives within the town and discuss it at a future meeting. With a December 20, 2013 deadline, Arnett said that time was limited and that a decision to support or not needed to be forthcoming to keep the effort vital.
Police Chief Mary Lyons came before the board and asked for acceptance of a new bench with a concrete foundation, which stands in front of town hall.
“We were looking for a way to honor Detective Lt. Paul Silveira and saw this bench at town hall in desperate need of repair,” said Lyons.
Lyons, working with the Highway Department removed the existing bench and installed a new one with a plaque honoring the service of Detective Lt. Silveira.
Silveria passed away on January 21, 2011 and was a revered and beloved community member. He was a mentor for those serving in the police department. Silveria was a 27-year veteran of the force who was to retire in August of 2011.
The Board voted to appoint 4 new members to the Council on Aging (COA), including Joan Flaherty, Claudia Richards, Judith Kennedy and Robert M. Walter. This brings the COA board to a new total of 12 members.
In other business, Melody Pacheco, Assistant to the Town Administrator said that the Board of Appeals is seeking a new associate member.
Pacheco announced that it is now open burning season, which will last until May 1, 2013. Permits from the fire department are required and size and volume criteria details can be discussed at the fire department. Certain burning restrictions apply in the village. Pacheco recommended that residents contact the fire department for more information.
By Joan Hartnett-Barry