2013-03-14 / News

Town awarded grant for elevated boardwalk at Hull Cove trail

Also, Carol Trocki resigns from post as chairwoman
BY MARGO SULLIVAN


Jamestown was awarded a grant to construct an elevated boardwalk at the public right-of-way that leads from Beavertail Road to Hull Cove. 
PHOTO BY JEFF MCDONOUGH Jamestown was awarded a grant to construct an elevated boardwalk at the public right-of-way that leads from Beavertail Road to Hull Cove. PHOTO BY JEFF MCDONOUGH The town has won a grant to build a handicap-accessible elevated boardwalk over wetlands at Hull Cove, Conservation Commissioner Michael Brown reported on Tuesday.

Brown said the town has not officially been notified about the award, however, he has been told the amount will have to be negotiated with town officials. He applied for $100,000 and is hopeful the town can collect the full amount.

“I don’t know the next step,” he told the other commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Maureen Coleman suggested contacting the town administrator.

Brown completed the grant application in time for last year’s Nov. 30 deadline. He found out about the opportunity while researching possible funding for the trail guide, which the Conservation Commission is in the process of reprinting.

Last October he brought the information about the trail restoration grant to the other conservation commissioners. He also told the panel that an earlier Conservation Commission had prepared a similar grant proposal for a boardwalk over the Hull Cove right-of-way.

After Brown offered to update the information and submit a new grant application, Chairwoman Carol Trocki suggested he should talk over the plan with Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and Town Solicitor Peter Ruggieri. She also advised him to sound out the neighbors on Beavertail Road.

In November, the commissioners voted to direct Brown to submit the grant application to build the boardwalk at the right-of-way off Beavertail Road leading to Hull Cove.

Earlier, that right-of-way had been widened illegally by an unknown individual, who also clear-cut the coastal buffer and attempted to turn the right-of-way into a private driveway. Because no one came forward and admitted responsibility, police did not have any witnesses and no one was charged.

Because Jamestown claimed to own the property by adverse possession, the Coastal Resources Management Council held the town accountable for the wetlands violations and ordered the local government to restore the Hull Cove trail to its previous condition.

According to a report Keiser gave the Town Council in September, the CRMC visited the site and presented Jamestown with a restoration plan. The plan called for removing the dead tree limbs and vegetation that had been left on the trail and replacing, insofar as practical, the lost trees and large shrubs. Keiser estimated the cost of planting trees at $17,000.

Brown mentioned the CRMC plan when he discussed applying for the trail restoration grant with the commissioners. He said if the town won the grant, it could save Jamestown the expense of restoring the trail and would pay for almost the entire cost of installing the 480-foot long and 4-foot wide boardwalk.

At the time, Trocki noted if Jamestown were to win the grant, the town would not be under any obligation to proceed. The Town Council would make the decision about whether or not to do the project, she said.

In other business, the commissioners drafted a letter thanking Trocki for her leadership as chairwoman. Trocki resigned from the commission because she moved out of town and can no longer serve on a Jamestown board. She had been a commissioner for eight years. Last week, the Town Council accepted her resignation “with regret,” according to Town Councilor Mary Meagher, who said Trocki had led the commission with aplomb.

Coleman was named interim chairwoman.

Finally, the commissioners will take a new tack in their effort to encourage storeowners to use paper bags instead of plastic at store checkout counters.

Brown reported the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce has withdrawn its earlier support for a voluntary plastic bag ban in town. After discussing the issue at the last chamber meeting, they backed out, Brown said, and asked not to have the chamber’s name used anymore in connection with the bag ban.

When the other commissioners asked why, Brown said the reason was pressure from business owners.

Brown had contacted about 30 stores that are using plastic bags and half agreed not to use them at store checkouts anymore. Most of the others are “sitting on the fence,” he said, while a few of the “big” businesses have come out against the effort. “They’re saying it’s not commercially feasible,” Brown said.

With the General Assembly now considering a statewide ban on plastic bags, the issue may be “heating up.” According to Brown, this may cause more business owners to back away.

For the time being, Brown suggested, the Conservation Commission could return to its original goal of educating people about the hazards plastic bags create for the environment and for sea life. They will work to encourage more people to use paper.

Brown said he had a “really great conversation” with Michael McQuade of McQuade’s Marketplace about how to increase the number of people who use paper bags and how stores can cooperate.

McQuade offered his bin to recycle used plastic bags, Brown said.

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