Selectmen Support MLT Land Pursuit

            During the April 9 meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen, the conversations centered on a variety of grants for a variety of projects and propositions for everything from land acquisitions to buying antique fire trucks.

            Coming before the board was Mike Huguenin of the Mattapoisett Land Trust (MLT). He enthusiastically discussed a large parcel of land that covered Prospect Road to the water’s edge at Pine Island Pond. Marshlands and other tender buffer zones in the 120-plus acres have been for sale by the Hiller family. Huguenin called it a “wildlife corridor” with a $1.5 million price tag.

            Before sharing the MLT’s plans for securing funding, Huguenin explained that, beyond the massive wildlife habitat the acreage has been identified as, it also has been recognized by the state as vulnerable wetlands within the municipality, a major watershed area.

            Huguenin said the MLT would partner with the Buzzards Bay Coalition to seek and apply for various grants such as the state Land Acquisition for Natural Diversity grant, Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant, and a federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. It is the hope of the MLT, he said, that these grants, along with private donations and a grant from Mattapoisett’s Community Preservation Committee (CPC), could cover the purchase price. He added that the CPC money would not be necessary if a larger sum is secured through the grant process; however, it would not be spent if other funding sources could not be secured.

            Of the CPC grant application, Huguenin said the MLT asked for $250,000, which the organization would cover via bonding and tax levy. Later in the evening, CPC Chairman John DeCosta confirmed that the committee had voted to forward the grant request to Town Meeting.

            Huguenin also asked the selectmen to provide the MLT with a letter of support and approval so they could proceed with grant applications, which the board agreed to do.

            DeCosta, flanked by committee members Margaret DeMello and Jodi Bauer, presented the list of CPC grants that were identified for inclusion in the May 13 Town Meeting Warrant. They are, along with the MLT request, $19,000 for repairs to antique fencing at the Cushing Cemetery; $15,000 to the Mattapoisett Bike Path for engineering studies for Phase 2; $20,000 for the renovation of the press box with ADA compliant features for the ORR Athletics Booster Club; and, $7,500 for the purchase of a 1921 fire engine that originally belonged to Mattapoisett and sought by the Fire Fighters Association.

            A grant request that had been withdrawn by Town Administrator Michael Gagne was described by Selectman Paul Silva as critical. The application was for construction needs at Long Wharf. Gagne assured Silva that the project was not being abandoned, that he was waiting for firmer cost estimates, and that it would be on the radar soon.

            “To me that’s Mattapoisett,” Silva said speaking of the wharf area. “Without that…” The incomplete thought was left hanging in the air.

            Also coming before the selectmen was Brendan Annett, vice president of the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC), to discuss goals and plans for returning “The Bogs” on Acushnet Road to a natural wetland state. He said that plans had been sidelined for some time, but that now an agreement between the former owners, Decas Cranberry Corporation and the U.S.D.A., were moving forward.

            Annett assured the selectmen that he was working closely with Highway Superintendent Barry Denham who had previously expressed his concerns regarding the need to avert possible flooding of abutting private properties and/or municipal roadways.

            Annett said the BBC had engaged GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. to study soils, groundwater, projected water movement, and other related matters. Once this is completed, he said, a meeting would be held with the U.S.D.A. to discuss the technical report. At that time, options and alternatives for wetland restorations would be the goal. He said a public meeting would be held inviting community members to learn about the project and for the BBC team to gather feedback. The first public meeting is scheduled for April 25 at 6:00 pm at Center School.

            The Cat and Dog Rabies Clinic is available to all pet owners on April 14 from 10:00 am to noon at the Mattapoisett Fire Station. The fee is $15 and licensing will be available to Mattapoisett residents. The event is sponsored by the Mattapoisett Fire Department, Mattapoisett Natural Resources Department, and Capeway Veterinary Hospital.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen is scheduled for April 23 at 6:30 pm in the Town Hall Conference Room.

Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen

By Marilou Newell

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