On July 12 members of the Mattapoisett Tree Committee met with the Select Board to give a 15-slide presentation on a variety of tree-related topics associated with the engineering and design work taking place for a project known as “Village Streets” (Main, Water and Beacon streets and Marion Road.)
The roadway project since its inception in 2014 was always one that would necessitate the inclusion of those who serve the community in the role of tree advocates. Now, as the 25-percent design is being reviewed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the town’s consultant VHB, the Tree Committee was ready to present their vision.
Committee Chairman Sandy Hering said that they propose the planting of 36 trees and the protection of many others. It was noted by Select Board member Jordan Collyer that it will be necessary to remove some trees that simply cannot be left in place, such as the tree in front of St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church.
Hering said that modern-day techniques for planting and protecting existing trees should be used to ensure the health of the trees. However, she acknowledged that some trees may not fare well over time after road construction takes place in their proximity. She hoped that the state would engage an arborist to assist.
Two other members of the committee, Mike Immel and Barbara Pornysz, also shared their views. Pornysz said the committee was looking at various locations where trees may be successfully planted, that trees absorb as much as 95 percent of ultraviolet light from the sun and that the trees’ canopies reduce energy costs. She also said that trees increase property values and are good for business.
Immel stated that trees add to the social scene of the village area, and he offered a conceptual drawing of what the area from Cannon Street to Barstow Street might look like. The drawing showed 18 trees gracing both sides of Water Street with at least one large bump out or plaza in front of the Inn on Shipyard Park, where trees would be planted in an expanded sidewalk. Immel also stated that trees help to reduce stress and add to the town’s character.
Collyer responded that he would not support any plan that removed parking spaces that are already too few in number and in high demand.
Hering said that the committee wanted inclusion to future meetings regarding the project including with VHB. She also believes it is important to continue engaging the public.
Town Administrator Mike Lorenco said that presently the 25-percent design for the project was being reviewed by MassDOT, and VHB needs to respond to MassDOT’s comments. He said that next steps would be a utility layout and possibly receiving the 75-percent design from VHB in five months. Lorenco further stated that before any roadwork could begin, gas mains would be replaced as well as water and sewer lines. He said current estimates for the project rest around $10,000,000 and that the project has been placed on the TIP grant for 2026.
The Select Board also heard from Jane Finnerty, a supervisor responsible for the management of safety staff for the town’s beaches, part of the Recreation Department. Finnerty was moved to meet with the board after the publication of a Letter to the Editor questioning why the raft had not been returned to the town beach on Water Street.
Finnerty passionately urged the board to never again deploy such a raft. She quoted shocking statistics that spinal injuries due to shallow-water diving constituted 10 percent of all such injuries, especially for young males. She said that the harbormaster had taken a sounding where the raft was historically placed and recorded water as shallow as 4 feet.
“It’s a lure for children,” said Finnerty, who warned that children can get trapped when trying to swim underneath the raft, that it is an insurance risk for the town, and given the town’s lack of enough qualified lifeguards, the raft is simply dangerous.
“Our camps are full,” said Finnerty, referring to camps that require at least two lifeguards in attendance, leaving fewer to monitor the beach. Finnerty said that the beach usage is not the same as in bygone years. Collyer agreed, saying, “It’s probably not in the best interest of the town.” Finnerty was asked to let inquiring people know the raft will not return in 2022.
The board also discussed the opening of Phase 1b of the Mattapoisett Bike Path with Select Board Chairman Tyler Macallister asking the cycling public to, “please stop before crossing Mattapoisett Neck and Brandt Island Roads.” He said there is no parking along Mattapoisett Neck Road, that parking is available at the landing and several spaces at the entrance to the path at Brandt Island Road.
It was also noted that there isn’t any parking at the Reservation Beach at the end of Reservation Road. Lorenco said, “It has always been private.”
Collyer volunteered to be the board’s representative working with the town’s Bike Path Committee and the Friends of the Mattapoisett Bike Path.
The board met with William Morgan, who requested a permit for the use of a mobile trailer at 23 Cove Street. Citing medical issues, Morgan asked for use of the trailer for an indefinite period of time. The board referred to the bylaw governing such permits and found two weeks to be the standard unless there are “emergency or calamitous” issues. Morgan was granted the two weeks and asked to provide a follow-up request for an extension.
Hunter Major was appointed to the Agriculture Commission, and Virginia Nelson was conditionally appointed pending a vacancy. Thomas Gomez was appointed as an Animal Control Officer.
More events are planned for Shipyard Park with the approval of Sunday Band Concerts to be presented by Robert Williamson in August, and Line Dancing are being offered by the Friends of the Mattapoisett Council on Aging on Thursdays. Dates and times for the dancing to be announced.
Also to be announced, the next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen.
Mattapoisett Select Board
By Marilou Newell