As if things couldn’t get worse for herring trying to migrate up the Mattapoisett River system – overfishing in and around Block Island, global warming, and natural predators –according to Rochester Herring Inspector David Watling and Mattapoisett Herring Inspector Bob Martin, herring numbers continue to decline.
“There is no good news,” Watling told the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen on February 27. “Last year, we counted twenty-four thousand fish. This time, it’s eighteen thousand.”
Watling said Middleboro had also reported shockingly low fish counts. “They went from about a million to something like one hundred fifty thousand.”
Martin and Watling plan to soon install a meter/counter at the fish ladder located on Route 6 and River Road. The counts presented on this night came from a meter located in Rochester.
Also coming before the selectmen were Michele Cinquegram and David Zimmerman of Verizon to conclude previous discussions with the selectmen about problematic double poles along Route 6 and other locations in the town.
After sharing the good news that poles brought to Verizon’s attention have now been vacated and ready for removal by Eversource, both Cinquegram and Zimmerman spoke to the communication issues between the two utilities that contributed to Verizon’s slow response in removing their equipment from poles slated for removal.
Zimmerman said that if Eversource didn’t advise all the utilities utilizing their poles that something needed to be done, he would have no way of knowing if Verizon equipment needed removal.
Cinquegram concurred, saying that a lack of timely accurate data entry into a shared computer platform that allows various utilities to be notified when poles needed attention was an ongoing problem.
Selectman Paul Silva asked the Verizon representatives to send a letter to Eversource advising that the poles were ready for removal and to instruct them about the need for proper filling of holes to avoid cave-ins and/or other pedestrian hazards.
Zimmerman presented a graph that illustrated all the poles in the community and which utilities were using them for their service distribution. Zimmerman continued to explain the inconsistencies Verizon experiences due to the lack of information from Eversource.
“I find it troubling that the utility isn’t updating the database,” said Town Administrator Michael Gagne.
Silva said, “It’s not our problem.” He then looked at the Verizon staff members and said, “It’s part of your partnership.”
Gagne said, “I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but Eversource didn’t update the database. They dropped the ball.”
The selectmen decided to ask Eversource to attend a meeting to discuss the matter further.
On a lighter note, Gagne said, “Everyone keeps asking about the ‘funny’ bikes on the porch.” He said that he and cycling activist Bonne DeSousa have been discussing the need for more transportation options throughout the community, especially during the boating season. The ‘funny’ bikes in question are ‘VBikes,’ a ride-share program that allows people to borrow a bike from a docking station simply by downloading an app onto their cell phones, which then releases the bike via a GPS-like system. For $1 per hour, a person can use the bike.
Gagne said a survey will be posted on the Town’s website to solicit feedback from the community on where the bikes should be located and any other ideas around the rideshare program or other transportation needs. He said the bikes could be placed on both public and private property, depending on the needs of the community. He suggested that locations such as marinas might be considered.
Gagne also reported on a comprehensive Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan that is currently under review. He said the draft document is available on the Town’s website and asked for public comment. Gagne said this was a critical document and, when completed, would be submitted to FEMA. He said it would be one tool used by FEMA when storm-related grants are applied for.
On the related theme of rising sea levels, Gagne said a public one-day long event is in the planning stages with Coastal Zone Management to discuss a Municipal Vulnerability Program.
Gagne said the conference would give residents the opportunity to more fully appreciate and understand the impact associated with rising sea levels. The program will delve into all aspects of rising waters from social, to economic, to infrastructure, and population migrations. Gagne said that with residents’ assistance he’ll collect data on the impact of rising sea levels on Mattapoisett, ranking needs – again – with an eye towards securing grants.
Wrapping up his report, Gagne announced the annual cat and dog rabies clinic will be held on Sunday, March 4, at the Mattapoisett Fire Station from 10:00 am to noon. Cost per animal is $15. All dogs much be leashed and all cats must be crated.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for March 13 at 6:30 pm in the Mattapoisett Town Hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen
By Marilou Newell