During the September 22 meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen, abutters to Phase 1b of the bike path asked to have a voice at the table as final plans are drafted.
Construction of the bike path which will cross wetlands located on Goodspeed Island includes the construction of a pedestrian bridge. Speaking on behalf of abutters Jen Russell, John Spector, and herself, Caroline Schernecker asked the board to grant access to this group of residents. Schernecker thanked Town Administrator Mike Lorenco and others for keeping abutters updated and hearing their concerns about wetlands being damaged, trash in wetlands, and the need for sanitary facilities.
Schernecker said that, before the new section opens to the public, she believes being proactive in letting the public know what acceptable behavior in and around the trail will be, as well as having a continuing conduit to air concerns moving forward was needed.
Selectman Jordan Collyer said that he and Lorenco had made a site visit and found the area unstable for anchoring a portable toilet or heavy-duty trash receptacles. “We’ll have to put a concert pad out there to anchor them down,” he said, adding that an ideal location had yet to be selected. He also said that current vandalism issues with such conveniences were a problem at other locations. But he said, “We can install these after they are done with construction.”
Schernecker said she had “grave concerns” over the public trampling of wetland vegetation. “People made their own trails to the beach… If we have proactive planning now, it can avert heartache in the future.”
Lorenco responded, “We are aware and the conservation agent is looking into it.” He said, regarding timeline for construction, he would bring Froth Engineering together with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the construction company White Construction to discuss last phases.
“Nothing has changed. They plan to be finished with the bulk of construction by the end of Fall (2020) and opening by sometime in April 2021,” he said.
Lorenco also said that environmental police had been patrolling the Eel Pond area, a popular location of harvesting crabs, with the intent of educating the public to environmental concerns and issues. “If you see something,” he urged the abutters, “call the police.” He assured the concerned residents that the police department is ready and willing to assist. “This isn’t the end,” Lorenco assured the group.
The selectmen earlier in the meeting greeted Tangi Thomas of Marion and Alison Noyce of Rochester, founding members of Tritown Against Racism. Thomas, reading from prepared notes said, “We are a grass-roots organization soon to be a non-profit,” and that while they stand against racism, they “…were not a Black Lives Matter organization. We support the police, 100 percent.”
Thomas said that area schools had been very receptive to their work in identifying racism and working to change programming. She said that Old Colony Regional Vocational-Technical High School had also expressed an interest in working with the group and that Tabor Academy was also supportive on a number of levels.
Thomas said her passion was books and finding reading material that her children and other children of color could identify with. To that end she said that little free libraries would be constructed around the tri-towns.
“The first thing is to identify that there is a problem – that’s the first step towards change,” Thomas stated.
Noyce spoke briefly, saying she didn’t want to take up too much time but appreciated the opportunity to introduce the group and the work they are doing. She said the group has a Facebook presence and could also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noyce and Thomas said the group’s slogan was “Start where you live.” Selectman Paul Silva said, “I love that slogan!” The selectmen were unanimous in their support of Tritown Against Racism, offering assistance as needed.
The selectmen also finalized the appointments of members for the Capital Planning Committee. Filling vacancies will be Mike Dahill Sr., Mike Rosa, Van Cantor, and John Jacobson. Carol Clifford will represent the local schools as the Mattapoisett School Committee representative.
Other committee appointments were: Ann Briggs to the Tree Planting Committee; and Joanna Ingham, Bette-Jean Rocha, and Barbara Poznysz to the Mattapoisett Cultural Council.
In other news, the Lions Club will hold an Electronics and Household Appliance Recycling Event on Saturday, October 17, at 1:00 pm in the Bowling Alley parking lot.
A certificate will be presented to Brad Hathaway on Saturday, October 3, to commemorate his achievement of walking 24,901 miles, the circumference of the Earth at the Equator. Hathaway’s Go-Fund-Me effort is raising money for the Mattapoisett Land Trust.
Town Hall will be closed in observance of Columbus Day on Monday, October 12, and the next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, at 6:30 pm.
Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen
By Marilou Newell