Showing posts with label Amherst Conservation Commission. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amherst Conservation Commission. Show all posts

Friday, May 20, 2016

Grow Your Own

Mill Lane community gardens (yesterday)

Maybe once marijuana is decriminalized for recreational use the town garden plots will see an uptick in popularity.

The Conservation Department makes these Community Gardens available for a nominal fee, and for a town that prides itself on being green (both in clean energy and Irish senses) I'm surprised more people don't take advantage of the opportunity.

UPDATE:  I'm now told the program is sold out, so I guess I will have to return for a reshoot in the next month or two.

 Amethyst Brook community gardens

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Conservation Kerfuffle

Wentworth Farm is 80+ acres of open space with Owen's pond in the middle

Last night's Conservation Commission meeting was one part awkward and another part heated as local farmer Matt Kotfila was denied a request to farm one acre of Wentworth Farm and he did not take kindly to that.  In the least.

He was particularly incensed the Commission did not contact all three of his references before a subcommittee of ConCom and Agricultural Commission decided to not recommend to the full board his Request For Proposal response saying it was "not quite ready" and just wasn't a "good fit".

 Matt Kotfila appears (briefly) before Conservation Commission last night

He gave a brief speech that was tinged with anger and closed with, "It can either be a field for dog poop or a field to grow food to help feed poor people."  The Conservation Commission then quickly voted unanimously "Not to issue the license" and will put the property back out to bid.

Mr. Kotfila stormed out of the meeting saying sternly, "You should be ashamed of yourselves!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Busy Beavers!

Gull Pond (off Old Farm Road) 9/29/15

The Amherst Conservation Commission gave "emergency certification" for a Gull Pond beaver breach last week to keep the pond from overflowing its boundaries. 

According to Town Manager (& Conservation Director) Dave Ziomek:

"My wetlands administrator worked closely with conservation and DPW staff to breach the dam. Late summer rains raised concerns about the road and water backup into basements etc. We’ve done this many times in my tenure with the Town to prevent impacts to residents, roads and property. All part of living with beavers. In these cases we seek what is called an emergency certification to breach a dam to lower water levels temporarily. Rain this week will bring level back up I’m sure."

 A "beaver deceiver" will be reinstalled to protect the drainage pipe

Considering the monsoons that are now upon us, that's a pretty safe bet.

Gull Pond 9/29/15 (from a tad higher up)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Recycling Dirt

Dirt pile on South East Street

That rather large dirt pile growing off South East Street on the grounds of Colonial Village Apartments in East Amherst is from the Presidential Apartments expansion project in North Amherst.  Both complexes have the same owner (Allen Cohn).

Presidential Apartments:  Nine new buildings opening September 1st

The Zoning Board and Conservation Commission both gave permission for temporary storage of 4,000 cubic yards of material and the Con Com will need to approve any future use of the dirt at the Colonial Village site.

Have dirt, will pile

10/18/15  Job complete

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Going To The Dogs

Dog Park brainstorming session attracted 25 to Town Hall on a nice summer night

In addition to the new Fire Station, DPW Building, Jones Library expansion/renovation and Wildwood elementary school reboot -- which Finance Director Sandy Pooler uses $57 million as a "placeholder" -- the town is also, sort of, considering a new parking garage on the CVS/town lot downtown and now a dog park.

 Unofficial proposed site for new parking garage

Twenty five citizens -- mostly dog lovers -- turned out for the "brainstorming" session on Monday night led by acting Town Manager Dave Ziomek.

 Assistant Town Manger Dave Ziomek addresses the friendly crowd

Of course of all the projects on the drawing board, or wish list as the case may be, the dog park is easily the cheapest.  And the town does own more open space than you can throw a stick at.

Currently about 1,400 licensed dogs call Amherst home but Animal Welfare Officer (not to be confused with Animal Control) Carol Hepburn estimates there are another 400 unlicensed dogs running around town under her radar.

 Carol Hepburn (left)

And at $15 per license (only $5 if neutered) it's not like the demographic is a big money maker -- even if you brought all the gypsy dogs into the fold. 

Canines in our little college town, like students, get a bad rap because of the irresponsible actions of a tiny minority.

The attack last year on two young students at Crocker Farm Elementary School by an unleashed pit bull led School Superintendent Maria Geryk to issue a ban on dogs during school hours on all school grounds (although not overly well followed).

Four years ago the Conservation Commission voted to ban dogs at Puffer's Pond even on the north side, formerly called "dog beach."  Although the Commission narrowly stopped short (3-3 tie vote) of repealing the off leash policy at Mill River and Amethyst Brook Conservation areas during the morning hours.

The Commission also voted  unanimously that night to "strongly encourage the town manager to seek to establish a dog park."

So here we are.  The brainstorming session on Monday produced a variety of ideas that town staff will put up on the town website, and the next meeting will take place in September.

 Click to enlarge/read

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Community Gardens Go Wanting

Mill Lane Community Gardens

It would appear -- at least from 400 feet up -- that the Amherst Community Garden program is having a bad year for participation.

Which I find surprising since the town is proud to have a book and plow for a town seal.

 Amherst Town seal

Although maybe someday my suggestion will take hold:  changing it to a BANANA.

Certainly it isn't the cost of participation at between only $15 and $35 per year per plot.  And the space at Mill Lane (owned by Amherst College) is not even restricted to Amherst residents only.

 Amethyst Brook Community Gardens

Maybe someday when pot is legalized ...

Elisa Campbell's lupines at Mill Lane Gardens

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Damage Assessment

 Heavy machinery and wet logging roads do not mix

The Amherst Conservation Commission and wetlands administrator Beth Willson took a guided tour -- otherwise known as a "site visit" -- this morning, led by environmental consultant Tony Wonseski to assess the damage caused by a subcontractor's heavy duty drilling machine in and around wetlands on the proposed site of the controversial "The Retreat" student housing development.

Tony pointed out seven impact areas in total but only five seem to require remediation, although that will be up for discussion at tonight's Conservation Commission meeting.

 One of the less damaged sites

And some of the damage could also have been caused by ATVs or other equipment not associated with Landmark Properties.  Anytime site work is performed anywhere near a wetlands the Conservation Commission should be notified in advance to allow their input.

 One of the more damaged sites

The damage was only recently discovered.   Landmark immediately reported it and they have already done stabilization work around the intermittent streams.

Tonight they will present plans to avoid a future recurrence, one of which is to have an environmental expert on site whenever work is being performed next to wetlands.

Biodegradable stabilization bales

Tony pointing out another less damaged area

One of the test drill sites

Damaged area along power line access road

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Stream Runs Through It

 Intermittent stream at bottom of steep hill

The Amherst Conservation Commission (town) hit the Massachusetts Department Of Transportation (state) with an "Enforcement Order" demanding they quickly rectify sloppy mitigation measures designed to protect an "intermittent stream" -- i.e. wetland -- at the South Amherst Rt116 construction site otherwise known as "The Notch."

Ignoring such an order can result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day and/or two years in jail.

Wall of protective hay bales now installed just above the stream

According to Beth Willson, Wetlands Administrator:  "MassDOT has responded to the Enforcement Order by installing matting on all the slopes, constructing paved swales and opening up drainage inlets so the water can drain appropriately from the site."