2006-04-20 / News

Town receives 'mini-grant' in support of Earth Day Shoreline Cleanup this Saturday

By Michaela Kennedy

The state Department of Environmental Management has approved a mini-grant for $200 worth of materials to be used in the Earth Day Shoreline Cleanup set for April 22, Conservation Commission Chairman Christopher Powell announced last week.

Powell also announced that the Conanicut Island Trails Guide maps were completed and ready for review.

At its April 11 meeting, the Conservation Commission discussed co-ordination of the Earth Day Shoreline Cleanup slated for this Saturday. Powell said that volunteers would meet at 8 a.m. at the Community Center downtown. "Town-owned properties and rightof ways will all get cleaned," Powell noted, adding that the commissioners would help to co-ordinate and lead groups of volunteers.

Powell told board members that he has received a letter from the state Department of Transportation requesting an update on the Adopt-aHighway program in which the commission has been involved. The commission agreed that the program was beneficial and voted to continue supporting it. Commissioner Steve Ryba made a motion for the commission to adopt the area from the highway overpass on North Main Road northward to Westwind Drive. "We're supposed to do (a) cleanup twice a year," said Powell, adding that he hoped the commission could get the cleanup done before Earth Day.

In an update on the Island Trails Guide project, Powell said he received completed colored maps for the guide. "Our goal is to have these (guides printed) for Trails Day, which is the first week in June," he noted, adding that he would give copies of the state-owned Beavertail Park trails maps to the DEM for review and provide a draft of the guide to review for the next meeting. Powell noted that money left in the commission's budget would be used for printing of the maps.

Commissioner Patrick Driscoll asked who, if anyone, guided the decisions of the state in opening up trails or areas of the park. Powell replied that the town had offered input in the past. He said about 10 to 15 years ago the town had concerns because the park's habitat was becoming too uniform. "The Beavertail Park Advisory Committee also has a say," Powell added.

In a review of town committee liaison reports, Powell asked the commissioners to take a close look at the committees and the importance of being involved in them. Commissioner Driscoll expressed interest in the Town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee and also the Ft. Getty Master Plan Committee. Powell advised all members to consider which committee they would be interested in and be available for before volunteering as a liaison. He told the board that liaisons were needed for the tree, Ft. Getty, and water resources protection committees.

In a discussion of trails maintenance, Powell praised Commissioner Jennifer Talancy and her husband for the "good job they did in cleaning up the Sanctuary trail" north of the town-owned golf course.

Powell added that Greg Clark had been servicing the Sanctuary trail with about 10 cuts a year. The commission voted on a motion by Talancy to allocate up to $550 to pay for Clark's services, for a maximum of 10 cuts. In a letter to the commission, Clark wrote that there might be a gasoline surcharge if prices keep rising.

Powell said there was "huge drainage" the east side of the golf course that should be considered as the Greenway Trail is created. Powell also noted that a surface for the Greenway Trail had not been decided yet. He said that since the commission originally worked on the grant with the town planner for the trail's layout, the board should check on the plan to make sure the surface would allow handicapped access.

In other business, Ellen Winsor of East Shore Road, representing the North End Concerned Citizens asked that the group be allowed to make a presentation to the commission. Winsor asked Powell for a copy of the recent letter he sent to the DEM that referenced the 1998 unanimous vote to support the proposed location of the town's highway facility at the transfer station on the island's north end. "We feel that we have a lot of data that would change the facts in this letter," she said.

Powell passed a copy of the letter to Winsor, and asked her to send a packet of information on the presentation ahead of time so the commission could have a chance to review the information before the presentation. Powell noted that the DEM's report on the site would be available at the end of April. He also noted that Town Engineer Michael Gray would address the commission after the report came out, with an update on the town's position. It would be appropriate to hear from the citizens' group after Gray's visit, Powell said.

The commission agreed to forward a letter to the Zoning Board of Review to ask for time to review the application of Patrick Kilroy to construct a waterfront home on Walcott Avenue.

The commission also agreed to put Lyme disease and pesticide use on the agenda in the near future. "It's important that the commission do research on pesticides. We don't want a lot of pesticides to create other problems," Powell said, adding that it would be useful to find out from the federal Environmental Protection Agency what recommendations it has for the control of Lyme disease and the use of pesticides.

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