Land Trust Plan Gains Town Support

            Mike Huguenin, president of the Mattapoisett Land Trust, came before the Mattapoisett Select Board on May 23 to discuss and receive the support of the board for two unrelated initiatives.

            The first was to discuss and approve conservation restrictions primarily for property recently acquired by the town and by other entities such as the Mattapoisett Water and Sewer Department for the purpose of protecting the Mattapoisett River Valley aquifer. Those properties are: Lopriore/Defelice Parcel, Red Brick Farm on Long Plain Road and Long Plain Forest. The total estimated acreage is 250.

            Questions from the audience arose regarding what will become of some parcels such as the Winterbottom Farm and the Red Brick Farm when the current farmers withdraw. Alan Decker assured all the farming will continue if farmers can be found to continue operation. He also said that the current tenants living in the red brick house have expressed a desire to continue their tenancy. Decker said they will be given a one-year lease.

            The town supported the purchase of the agricultural lands with a CPA grant in the amount of $85,000 at the Annual Town Meeting held on May 8. The board signed the conservation documents, sealing their support.

            Huguenin also discussed with the board an opportunity to apply for a grant from Coastal Zone Management. He explained that the grant would be used to design culvert options and other marshland remediation plans for Molly’s Cove. He shared a four-year report produced by the Buzzards Bay Coalition that shows the decline of the marshlands as a vital part of the ecosystem due to poor water quality from inadequate tidal flushing. The cove is traversed by Mattapoisett Neck Road.

            The grant application, if awarded, could bring much-needed dollars to a project that has long been identified as needing attention – culvert repair. A study done in 2021 by the Woods Hole Group also identified as problematic not only the cove’s poor water quality but also the roadway’s resiliency to climate change and rising water levels.

            Town Administrator Mike Lorenco reminded the board that there is money set aside for grants that require matching funds. Huguenin believed, although no grant match is required by CZM, it was prudent to demonstrate the town’s sincerity. He said that generally a match is 25% of the grant total, in this case $20,000 against a grant of $100,000. He went on to say that the MLT was willing to commit half of the match, or $10,000, if the town was willing to contribute the other $10,000. The board moved to allocate $10,000, thus lending the town’s support.

            Earlier in the proceedings, the board moved to establish an ad hoc commission to oversee town-owned cemetery maintenance, the placement and management of memorial bricks and benches and signage throughout the community.

            Ray Hanks of Wreathes across America talked about placing wreaths on veteran graves throughout Mattapoisett in both private and municipally owned cemeteries. Select Board member Jordan Collyer said the town has no jurisdiction over privately owned cemeteries and suggested reaching out to them directly. Wreathes across America is a national volunteer group that seeks to place a memorial wreath on veterans’ graves every December.

            The board also met with Kimberly Ray, president of the Lions Club, to discuss changes to the upcoming annual fundraiser Harbor Days. The Lions sought and received permission to hold a children’s painting session and to reposition a food truck for better customer traffic flow. The vendor craft booths will be open on July 15 and 16.

            On Monday, June 12, at 11:00 am, Phase 1b of the Mattapoisett Bike Path will be officially opened with Representative William Straus and members of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in attendance, along with local prime movers to the project. It was observed by the board that the designated day and time for the planned ribbon cutting was likely to be inconvenient for working people and children. It was determined that another celebration may be planned to allow for greater community participation.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Select Board was not scheduled upon adjournment.

Mattapoisett Select Board

By Marilou Newell

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