It looks like it’s all systems go for a prime natural parcel in Mattapoisett to become the newest conserved land for public enjoyment: the Old Hammondtown Quarry.
The 53-acre site was first identified by the Mattapoisett Land Trust as a worthy contender for permanent conservation status when the parcel became available. With its history as a rose granite quarry – features that are still visible deep within the woodlands – and its clean fresh water streams, the MLT went on the hunt for partners and grants to acquire the property.
On March 27, Town Administrator Michael Gagne announced that a letter had been received from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation expressing their interest in purchasing the property. The letter notes, “The cascading Swifts Brook at the southwestern corner of the property is one of the healthiest streams in the region.”
Gagne said that with the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen’s approval, he would post the letter on the Town’s website giving the public the opportunity to voice any questions or concerns pursuant to the state’s plan. Barring any comments, he said he would then advise the state that the Town was in agreement to waive the 120-day notice period.
The Buzzards Bay Coalition has also been instrumental in the process, Gagne said.
The selectmen were unanimous in agreement to follow through as suggested.
Coming before the selectmen to discuss the work of the Mattapoisett Cultural Council was Chairman Kathleen Damaskos. She began by speaking about the variety of grant requests received annually – grants that impact “every demographic” in town.
Damaskos said that local and regional school programs such as robotics and drama programing are funded in part by grants received from the MCC. However, she said that with state funding of only $4,400, many requests had to be turned down.
Damaskos said she communicated with Gagne and hoped that the selectmen would support a matching municipal sum to help ensure more programs could be funded in the future.
Again, the selectmen were unanimous in their agreement to add a budget line item in the amount of $5,000 for grants awarded by the MCC.
Damaskos also introduced the newest members to the MCC. They are Donna Wingate, Gail Schultz, Karen Martin, Sarah Thomas, and Mike Eaton.
Changes in other boards and committees noted on this night were Alexandra Murphy to the Historical Commission and James Rodriques to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The selectmen also appointed three new civilian per diem paramedics: Joseph Borgatti III; Bruce Ballard; and William Coucci.
During his report to the selectmen, Gagne lauded the exemplary efforts of the Highway, Water, Sewer, and Tree Departments during the spate of damaging storms that have stricken the area.
He also thanked Eversource for their service to the town.
Gagne said Town Hall staff also pitched in to help residents through the difficult hours, and that the Police and Fire Departments were to be congratulated for their efforts.
Gagne gave a special shout-out to Police Captain Anthony Days for coordinating the opening of the relief center at ORRHS during power outages.
Gagne said cleanup continues on public easements, but he advised residents that brush and trees on private property were not to be dragged out to the edge of roadways for town collection. He said storm debris from private property should be transported to the transfer station. Starting April 3, the transfer station hours will switch to Tuesday through Saturday, 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.
On the theme of disaster planning, Gagne said the Flood Mitigation Plan was complete and ready to submit to FEMA and MEMA (Federal and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agencies). He said this blueprint would allow the Town to file grant applications, and he hopes to secure monies for the relocation of the sewer main currently located across Eel Pond.
Gagne also reported on another type of disaster, that of the opioid crisis. He read from a paper published by the Massachusetts Municipal Association that discussed the joining of cities and towns in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and distributors. He said that presently 30 municipalities have united to pursue litigation against companies they believe have contributed to addiction problems in their communities.
Gagne said that in speaking with Police Chief Mary Lyons and town counsel, Mattapoisett had sufficient data to join in such litigation.
The lawsuit would in part allege, “…That distributors did not track and inform the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration of suspicious opioid orders as required under the Controlled Substances Act.”
The selectmen agreed and moved to have Mattapoisett join other Massachusetts cities and towns in this matter.
Earlier in the evening, coming before the selectmen were Guy Rossi and Zach Sun of Taylor Seafood for a hearing to determine the future of their aquaculture license for waters off Brandt Point.
After what had previously been identified as non-compliance conditions and abandonment of equipment, the selectmen called the hearing. The hearing was short-lived however, when Rossi and Sun announced they were relinquishing their license at this time.
Gagne asked them to submit a letter from their corporate entity officially notifying the Town of their intention to discontinue.
The selectmen also heard details regarding the Tri-Town Veteran’s Services with the board approving an agreement between Marion, Rochester, and Mattapoisett that clears the way for efficient management and support of resources. Gagne said Veterans Agent Barry Denham and clerk Jo-Ann O’Malley were doing a “great job,” also noting that they have seen an uptick in requests for services.
Looking forward to the summer season, Gagne said a bike share pilot program would begin with bikes positioned at the wharf, near the bike path, and at the Mattapoisett Boat Yard. The bike share program survey generated a healthy response from the public, he said.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for April 10 at 6:30 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen
By Marilou Newell