Critical Bike Path Public Hearing

At long last, Phase I of the next construction segments of the Mattapoisett Bike Path has received a hearing date with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. This very pivotal public hearing is scheduled for September 25 at 7:00 pm in the Old Hammondtown School auditorium. Depending on how this hearing goes, either Mattapoisett will have a complete bike path in the coming years or it won’t.

After exhaustive efforts on multiple fronts, including town meetings where the bike path was favorably viewed and funded, both the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path and the Bike Path Committee will meet face-to-face in a public hearing held by MassDOT.

Bonnie DeSousa, whose work on behalf of the Mattapoisett Bike Path might well go down in the history books for the shear amount of time and energy she has poured into trying to secure a safe biking route for the community, called a meeting on August 27 to share details about the hearing.

She said that MassDOT is an enormous department, whose responsibilities include massive highway projects, and it moves at a very slow pace; therefore, finally getting a hearing is a huge milestone for the bike path project. DeSousa said that it has been terribly difficult to get clear information from the DOT, at times receiving confusing directives, or worse yet, no response at all. “They do major projects … our little one mile doesn’t get a lot of attention…” she shared.

Now with the hearing close at hand, she impressed upon the 12 or so attendees the importance of spreading the word and getting citizens to the hearing to show support and community commitment. DeSousa further noted that the Phase I section that will be the focus of the hearing impacts projects in other towns as well.

Phase I is the section that will unite the bike path that presently ends at Mattapoisett Neck with Route 6. The plan is to have the new piece wiggle through tender environmental wetlands near the YMCA and Reservation Golf Course as gently as possible and come out at Depot Street. A Phase II segment would eventually bring the bike path to the Industrial Park area, but Phase I must pass muster first.

DeSousa asked that people send letters to William Chi, Project Manager, MassDOT, Highway Division, Room 6340, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA, 02116, expressing how this project will positively impact the lives of the residents in the region and in Mattapoisett. She said that letters should speak to the health benefits of having a safe biking space for people of all ages, while possibly making bicycling a more integral part of a household, such as using it to get to work or shopping.

She said that if people want to speak at the public hearing they should be prepared to do so from a written statement, and leave with the DOT members the hardcopy for the file.

Mattapoisett has invested in the process by voting for funds in the tens of thousands of dollars to help offset engineering costs. Now, DeSousa feels, residents who support this project need to turn out for the public hearing– and the more the better.

In a recent conversation with Town Administrator Mike Gagne, DeSousa said that certain town hall departments will be asked to participate in the hearing. Selectmen will also be in attendance.

DeSousa said that she will be contacting everyone again regarding a letter writing rally tentatively scheduled for September 10 at a time and place to be announced.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Bike Path Committee is September 11 at 7:30 pm in the town hall conference room. She urged people to attend that meeting as well.

By Marilou Newell

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MAB Says No To Private Dock

With concern that a proposed 290-foot private dock on Goodspeed Island is not good for the public use of public waterways, Mattapoisett’s Marine Advisory Board sent a letter stating their position to the Board of Selectmen through Town Administrator Mike Gagne. The proposed dock had been discussed at their July meeting, at which time the majority of the board members felt such a structure would inhibit recreational use of the harbor around that location. Noting that they had not used the location for new moorings in an effort to keep the area open for public recreation, and that in the absence of specific bylaws that would manage this type of construction, they voted to let the Selectmen know their concerns. As of the August 28 meeting, they had not yet received a reply from the Selectmen.

The approved minutes of the July 31 meeting on this topic state: “…John Cornish makes a motion to write a letter to the Conservation Committee to refer to the waterfront management plan and delineation of recreation areas in decision making process, as well as consulting the MAB prior to issuing permit. Jeff Swift seconds motion and is unanimously passed. Robert Moore makes a motion that a letter be written to the BOS addressing the MAB concerns that there is a lack of bylaws regulating new piers and request new regulations be promulgated and presented at the next town meeting. Mike Chaplain seconds the motion and is unanimously passed…” Several members said that the beach right-of-way had been transferred from the previous owner to the new owner, which might make the obtaining of a permit easier for the applicant. Carlos DeSousa said some aspects of the project would have to be discussed in executive sessions.

In other business, Harbormaster Jill Simmons asked if she could remove a mooring that apparently is misplaced and presently interfering with a permitted mooring and the boat moored to it. The MAB members felt it was well within her scope of duties to have the errant mooring removed. She wondered aloud who should incur the cost associated with the removal. MAB stated the person who put it there.

Regarding the Waterfront Enterprise Fund, Selectman Paul Silva has indicated to the board that the town hall is still collecting all the necessary data and formatting it into an easy-to-digest format before releasing it to the MAB and the Harbormaster. DeSousa said they needed that piece before they could make recommendations on fee increases and finish their work on the ‘rules and regulations’. Chairman Alan Gillis said that he would be meeting with Gagne the following day to discuss mooring inspection processes and changes to the ‘rules and regulations’.

On the theme of mooring inspections, no changes will be made to the current regulations until the Selectmen have had an opportunity to weigh-in. That line item will be on the agenda during the BOS September 23 meeting.

Simmons gave her report which included: the purchase of three new floats to add spaces for dinghies; modifications to racking system at town landing to accommodate kayaks; a tour of the shoreline with members of the assessor’s office that resulted in the discovery of 51 floats and docks that have not been permitted; and the unexpected damage from a recent storm that caused one boat to sink and left others with expensive repairs.

Simmons also reported that there seemed to be a criminal group operating in the area stealing outboard motors and damaging vessels, saying that there have been numerous break-ins reported. She said that the thieves have a similar modus operandi from Rhode Island to Wareham and that when she was an officer with the New Bedford Police Department, it was deduced that the motors are hauled away and shipped off shore.

The next meeting of the Marine Advisory Board is scheduled for September 25 at 7:00 pm in the town hall conference room.

By Marilou Newell

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Con Comm Allows Buffer Zone Work

The Rochester Conservation Commission gave its approval for two projects within a buffer zone surrounding vegetated wetlands to move forward.

The first was a Request of Determination of Applicability filed by Harris Real Estate Boston, LLC for property located at 45 Kings Highway, Rochester. The applicant, represented by Brian Grady of G.A.F. Engineering, Inc., proposed to raze the existing dwelling on the property, including removal of the existing septic system, driveway, and well. This work is proposed within the 100-foot buffer zone to a bordering vegetated wetland and isolated vegetated wetland.

The Commission granted approval for the proposal, provided that the board contacts the engineer once the well is closed to ensure all wiring and ancillary structures are removed and the well properly closed.

The second request heard by the commission was for a RDA filed by Bill LaPierre for property located at his home on 46 Paradise Lane. LaPierre, who was represented by Rob Ferreira of Infinity Landscape and Construction, proposed to replace a section of his patio within the 100-foot buffer zone of an isolated vegetated wetland protected under the Wetlands Protection Act.

In addition to the new section of patio, Ferreira said he recommended that LaPierre remove some existing trees that fall up to 40 feet within the buffer zone.

“We just want to remove some trees within the buffer zone to protect the homeowner’s property. The trees were there when the home was built, but they’ve gotten too big,” Ferreira said.

The commission granted approval for this project, but asked that rather than remove the stumps of the trees, they just grind them down. Additionally, Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon asked that she be notified when the project is done.

Discussion on the Notice of Intent filed by Gloria Doviak regarding her proposal to raze an existing dwelling and construct a new one within the 100-foot buffer zone surrounding the wetlands at 356 Snow’s Pond Road was continued and will be discussed at the October 7 meeting.

In other business, Farinon discussed the possibility of putting the new “Explore Rochester” trail guides into a digital format that would be available for residents on the town’s website. This would create a living document that could be consistently updated with new information on the trails.

The next Rochester Conservation Commission meeting will be held in the Town Hall meeting room on September 16 at 7:00 pm.

By Camden Gaspar

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Tinkhamtown Artists Show

The Mattapoisett Area Artists will present a gallery show at Tinkhamtown on September 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, from noon until 6:00 pm. Artist Open House reception is September 12 from 7:00 until 9:00 pm. Tinkham Chapel was established in 1890. The show will be next door at 188 Acushnet Road, in Mattapoisett. Read about the history of the chapel and view local artists. The picturesque setting and artistic creations displayed will make a visit well worth your while. Contact ramcann@aol.com for more information.

Marion Recycling Bins

Everyone knows that recycling is good. It preserves natural resources, saves money, creates jobs and saves energy. When the proper infrastructure is in place, recycling can be easy and convenient, both earth-friendly and people-friendly, too. While a curbside recycling program has long been in effect for Marion homes, a new program will facilitate eco-friendly practices in the historic Village area, as well. Through the efforts of the Marion Tree/Parks Committee, the Marion DPW, and the valuable support of Marion resident Mark Milhench, the town will now have dual trash/recycling stations at three key locations in the Marion Village: in front of the Sippican Historical Society at 139 Front Street; next to Dean/Ross Home at 148 Front Street; and next to the Music Hall at 164 Front Street. Installation of additional trash/recycling stations is planned in several phases over the next two years.

One of the obstacles that municipalities face in providing refuse and recycling containers is the fact that they are often prohibitively expensive. By generously providing the receptacles at a more affordable cost, Milhench Supply Company is supporting the community’s efforts to be both clean and eco-conscious. While proper waste disposal is critical, waste reduction through recycling is a tangible and accessible way for Marion’s residents to help their town and their planet. The side-by-side receptacles are clearly marked either Trash Only or No Trash – Mixed Recycle. The latter accommodates glass, tins, plastic and paper. It is the hope of the Tree/Parks Committee and the Marion DPW that the townspeople and visitors will take advantage of the new receptacles to help create a cleaner, greener environment.

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Farmer, Shipbuilder, Merchant, & Judge

Once again, Seth Mendell – educator, historian, and President Emeritus of the Mattapoisett Historical Society – enthralled a gathering of eager listeners when he gave his final talk of the summer season on Squire Joseph Meigs, Sr. at Shipyard Park on August 31.

Mendell, speaking nearly extemporaneously for an hour on one of Mattapoisett’s most important residents from the past, gave the attendees a peek into our rich local history. The evening’s event was augmented by the creeping insistence of sea fog, which gave Mendell’s talk an ethereal effect, as though the past and its people were returning from a long sea voyage.

Mendell told the assembled that the Puritan Migration brought Meigs’ ancestors to these shores. He said that between the years 1620 and 1640, a grand migration of Puritans landed on shores along Massachusetts’ coast. He said that 75,000 people exited Europe during those years, with 15,000 finally residing in and around the Bay Colony area that encompassed Mattapoisett. Of those was one John Meigs who resided in Rochester (of which Mattapoisett and Marion were part at that time). He would distinguish himself by becoming a prosperous farmer marrying one Alice Dexter. They would have a son, Joseph, born on September 11, 1776. This Meigs would distinguish himself far beyond what his father and mother could have dreamed.

From an early age, Joseph Meigs had an inquiring mind, an intellectual desire to understand things beyond farming. He was interested in literature and the law. His mother and others would say that if you couldn’t find him, when you finally did, no doubt, a book would be in his hands. He had a driving thirst for knowledge.

Mendell told us that during the early years while Meigs was growing up on the farm, farmers took their produce down to the wharves to sell, either directly to the 400 or more workers employed in the numerous shipyards that lined today’s Water Street and Shipyard Park or to the numerous inns and taverns that serviced the huge population of the day. It wasn’t long before Meigs yearned to leave the farm and learn the shipbuilding trade. With his father’s permission, he did just that.

Mendell said that Meigs’ first job in the shipyard was as an apprentice caulker – one who pounded hemp and other caulking materials between the seams of the wooden boat planks. Mendell asked us to imagine those days when ships were rising 30 or more feet over head, one after the other lining Water Street all the way to where town beach is today. One could nearly smell the newly-sawed Georgia oaks and pine that were imported from the south for the whaling ships. An astounding fact Mendell imparted was that Meigs would have pounded seven miles of caulking material in an average whaling boat. Meigs was destined for greater things, however. He was soon a carpenter, then master carpenter, a position one can akin to shipyard manager or business manager today.

In 1799, after years of advancing himself through shipyard work, he purchased property on Water Street where the Inn at Shipyard Park sits today. He opened a tavern and general store at this site. Shortly thereafter, he established his own shipyard, one that would become renowned for quality ships that could withstand long sea voyages. It was not unusual for shipyard owners to also own inns and taverns that would provide food and drink to the massive number of workers employed along the waterfront.

Meigs, ever restless to expand his horizons, was not satisfied with merely being a prosperous merchant and shipbuilder; he craved more knowledge and intellectual pursuits. He traveled to Boston to pursue an education in law. During that time, he met his future wife at a tavern he frequented on his journeys from Mattapoisett to Boston. He married Amelia Loring. She would become his right hand in managing the tavern and general store businesses, freeing him to pursue even greater positions with legislative power.

Mendell said that in 1816, Meigs received his law degree and practiced before the “Great and General Court of Plymouth.” In 1829, he became a Representative in the Massachusetts House and in 1838, a Senator.

One of the footnotes to Meigs’ career is that in his government position he was able to gain the ear of John Quincy Adams, who released funds for the building for Ned’s Point Lighthouse. Amen.

Meigs’ shipyard, under the management of his son Joseph Jr., became world renowned for its quality workmanship. Meigs Sr. was tireless in his marketing effort, heretofore not done by other shipyards, to win new contracts by traveling the circuit espousing the quality of ships from his shipyard.

Mendell said that nearly every aspect of the whaling industry was covered by Squire Meigs’ businesses. From providing provisions through his general store and tavern enterprises, building ships, securing raw materials from southern producers of live oak and southern yellow pine, to having his own fleet of whaling ships, Meigs and company were there.

In 1841, tragedy struck the Meigs family when Joe Junior was stricken by pneumonia and succumbed to it. Though his younger son, Loring, stepped in to fill his brother’s role, Joseph Sr, Mendell said, was heart sick with grief. Loring, for his part, would become a prime mover in the extension of the Fairhaven Railroad through Mattapoisett and beyond.

Meigs carried on in spite of his sorrow, including struggling through the horrific loss of one of his whaling ships as it sat moored off Ned’s Point. After returning from a years-long whaling trip, the ship was too heavily laden with whale oil to dock at the wharf. The deeper waters off Ned’s Point were sufficiently deep enough to allow the ship to anchor as it was off-loaded. Eager to feel land under their feet and loved ones in their arms, all but two sailors were released from duty. During an evening in 1846, as the ship lay waiting for the rest of its cargo to be brought to shore, an onboard accident set the ship ablaze. It was reported that the barrels of whale oil exploded like bombs for hours as the ship and its load burned.

This incident would later find Meigs doing battle with the Sun Mutual Insurance Company, who refused to pay up even though the ship had been insured. Eventually, Meigs would win his case in a New York court.

Mendell believes that the loss of Joseph Junior and the stress of losing such an important load in the form of whale oil impacted Meigs’ health. He died in September of 1846 at the age of 70.

One tender anecdotal story about Joseph Meigs is that he was instrumental in the beautification of Mattapoisett through the planting of elm trees. Today, only one remains as a testament to Meigs’ life and times. It is located adjacent to the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum, standing in silent vigilance over the building Mendell has supported and assisted for so many years. Surely, this would please the Squire.

By Marilou Newell

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Scott R. Gamache

Scott R. Gamache, 38, of Franklin, MA died September 3, 2014 at Milford Regional Hospital after a long illness.

He was the husband of Christine M. (Foran) Gamache.

Born in New Bedford, the son of Richard A. and Sharon A. (Santos) Gamache, he was raised in Mattapoisett before moving to Franklin, MA in 2006.

Scott was employed by as a quality control manager at Eagle Investments.

He was a graduate of Old Rochester Regional High School, class of 1993 where he played baseball, golf, soccer and was a member of the jazz and concert band. Scott was a graduate of Boston College, class of 1997 and enjoyed attending BC football games with family and friends. He enjoyed spending time with his wife golfing, skiing and talking sports.

Survivors include his wife; his parents; his twin sons, Christian Gamache and Tyler Gamache; a brother, Kevin Gamache and his wife Kate of Holliston, MA; his maternal grandmother, Eileen (Martin) Santos of New Bedford; and several nieces, aunts, uncles and cousins.

His Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, September 10th at 11 AM in the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Rd., Route 6, Mattapoisett. Visiting hours Tuesday, September 9th from 3-8 PM. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Christian and Tyler Gamache Trust Fund, c/o First Republic Bank, 160 Federal St., Boston, MA 02110.

Classic Film Friday

On Friday, September 12 at 7:00 pm, the public is invited to the Marion Music Hall (164 Front Street) for its Classic Film Friday Presentation: Double Indemnity. The event is co-sponsored by the Sippican Historical Society and the Marion Council on Aging, and is offered to the public, free of charge. The 1944 film noir is an urban crime drama in which Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) seduces insurance agent Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) into murdering her husband to collect his accident policy. Complications arise when Neff’s boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), a brilliant insurance investigator, grows suspicious of the death’s true nature. Praised by many critics when first released, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, though it did not win any. Widely regarded as a classic, Double Indemnity is regarded as the iconic film noir, setting the standard for the films of that genre.

Running time for Double Indemnity is 107 minutes, and the film will be followed by a brief talk-back session by David Pierce. The Marion Music Hall is located at 164 Front Street, and ample parking is available across the street at Island Wharf. For more information, contact the SHS at 508-748-1116.

Selectmen Keep Authority of Sprague’s Cove

After taking the matter into consideration, the Marion Board of Selectmen voted September 2 to maintain authoritative control over Sprague’s Cove, choosing not to hand over management to the Marion Open Spaces Acquisition Commission or the Conservation Commission.

Chairman Jon Henry referred to an August 20 memorandum the board received from John and Susan Teal, who spoke during the August 18 selectmen’s meeting about the nuisance of phragmites relative to Sprague’s Cove.

The memo gives a rough outline of a management plan, calling for regular observation, the mowing of the site, and herbicide application. It also cites phragmites as a serious fire hazard.

For months, MOSAC and ConCom have been rivaling to gain control over the management and maintenance of the constructed wetlands designed for water purification.

            Henry acknowledged that the site needs a management plan – like any sewage treatment facility would require – but it needs to be “spelled out.”

Henry stated that the board should place an article on the next Town Meeting warrant for the funding, despite not having a plan for an engineer to analyze the site or a maintenance plan of some sort. He suggested a study committee of “stakeholders,” which would include the Department of Public Works.

“Nine out of ten times, it’s the DPW that’s gonna be doing the work,” agreed Selectman Jody Dickerson.

Henry’s bottom line was getting Town Meeting approval for the funding before making any concrete decisions on the future of the cove. He acknowledged openly that the board did not have the knowledge or understanding of the maintenance the cove requires, and Town Administrator Paul Dawson said he was unclear as to how to word an official document declaring the board’s decision, agreeing to word it that jurisdiction would remain “under the Town of Marion.”

“We gotta start somewhere,” said Henry.

Also during the meeting, the Friends of the Marion Council on Aging gave a brief summary of their recent plans for the future of a senior center in town.

The group has enlisted the assistance of the UMass Gerontology Institute to study the town’s senior citizen demographics.

The focus of their study will be caregivers of the elderly, residents over 45 years old, and local non-profit groups that might take an interest in creating a senior center that could also be used as a community center.

“We’re not here to ask for money,” said Priscilla Ditchfield. “The Friends is going to pay for this … but we do ask that you pay attention and come to these meetings as much as possible.”

In other matters, the board received an update from the Landfill Solar Array Evaluation Committee, which recommended accepting the RFP submitted by My Generation Energy, calling it “the number one contractor here.”

Bill Saltonstall from the committee said the company was giving the town the best deal, as well as satisfying the town’s goals for the project.

The town will lease the land to the My Generation Energy at $370,000, according to Dawson.

“That’s not a bad deal,” said Saltonstall.

Also during the meeting, after a rather long discussion, the board voted 2-1 against a water abatement for 49 Joanne Drive.

Dawson vehemently opposed granting the abatement totaling over $16,000 because the town had made 25 attempts since 2006 to enter the dwelling for an accurate meter reading, with no response from the property owner. The property owner for seven years had been paying an estimated water bill, which resulted in an undercharging of water and sewer usage.

Henry wanted to investigate further to see if a water leak was the culprit for the significant discrepancy in billing, but Selectmen Stephen Cushing and Dickerson both stated that it was the responsibility of the homeowners to respond to the town’s many attempts to rectify the issue over the past seven years – and they failed to do so.

By Jean Perry

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Friends Second-Saturday Book Sale

The Friends of the Mattapoisett Library’s second-Saturday book sale resumes its regular schedule on September 13 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm downstairs at the library, 7 Barstow Street. This month’s highlight is the addition of nearly 1,000 nearly-new non-fiction books on nearly every subject: history; military history; biography; and sports, particularly baseball. As always, there’s a great selection of fiction for all ages, CDs and DVDs, the Junior Friends’ bake sale, and the deposit-bottle and can collection. Stop by to browse and to support your library.