The Harrisville Conservation Commission met for its regular meeting on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at Town Offices, 705 Chesham Road. 

Members present: Harry Wolhandler, Winston Sims, Don Scott, Les LaMois, Kathy Scott
Members absent: Andrea Polizos
Members of the public: Eric Swope

The meeting opened at 7:00 pm.

Minutes of April meeting
HCC voted to approve.

The Chair noted that watershed education would be included as part of the rain garden discussion. Winston Sims asked to add additional watershed items and to move the item up to third on agenda. Members subsequently voted to add it as item #7 as prior agenda items would move quickly.

Rain Garden project
Though the Keene state students were absent from the meeting, members reviewed their plans. The hope is to time construction of the rain garden in conjunction with culvert repair on Prospect Street. Don Scott noted that once the design is submitted by the students, the HCC will continue with implementation and, in the meantime, is talking to abutters, the Road Agent and the Select Board. Harry Wolhandler spoke to the opportunity for educational awareness through submission of articles to Common Threads and the possible installation of a sign at the site of the rain garden, describing the project and noting the role rain gardens play as an important step in stormwater management and runoff into our lakes. Members plan on the rain garden project as the focus of HCC summer activities and an important medium for educating residents about stormwater management.

Eric Swope added that Cheshire Conservation Commission may have access to funds for plants for the project and that he will follow up with Amanda Littleton, also asking her if there are any restrictions on the use of any available funds or could they also be used for educational signage. Mr. Swope also mentioned that Soak Up the Rain may be interested in forming a partnership on a project like this in Harrisville. He noted that Lisa Loosigian is the current contact there.

Winston Sims added that NH Lakes is starting up a Lake Smart Program, including establishing guidlines and looking at approaches to help keep water clean and to control erosion and waterflow.  Kathy Scott mentioned scheduling a public hearing but Mr. Wolhandler hoped to hold off on this until the project is further along.

Earth Day Roadside Pickup – Report
Mr. Wolhandler summarized the successful roadside pickup event, noting there were 79 volunteers in total covering most of the town. He hopes to broaden the scope for next year to include not just roadside cleanup but a more general “Spring Cleaning” involving streambeds and other areas.

Old Home Days
Members discussed logistics for setting up and staffing the booth, the topics to be included and potential information materials and posterboards. Handouts will be prepared for weed watchers. Winston Sims offered to provide a blowup map of the Natural Resources Inventory and maps of watersheds. A poster on the rain garden project and information on water runoff was also discussed.

Aquatic Invasive Prevention
Weed watcher training is scheduled for Saturday, July 13, in town offices. Harry Wolhandler will submit an article to Common Threads, prepare posters for handouts to Lake Host staff and also will reach out to nearby towns, Lake Host leaders and local media.

Summer Celebration
The HCC plans to host an open invitation summer celebration on Sunset Beach for all in town who help to keep Harrisville beautiful. Possible dates were discussed with Saturday, July 20, noted as a desirable option. The potential for a rain garden party also was raised, possibly in September following completion of the Prospect Street culvert repair.

Following a question from Winston Sims to each member about perceived critical issues related to watersheds, members discussed preserving water quality, protecting waterbodies, managing runoff, educational awareness and enforcement of building and development regulations.  Extensive discussion surrounded ideas for diverting water off roads and implementing infiltration measures and ideas about conveying the importance of this to all property owners. A critical message point involves encouraging homeowners to “keep their water”, the message in the state’s Homeowners Guide to Stormwater Management. Don Scott named culvert maintenance, including road crowning, ditch maintenance and increasing culvert sizes as well as detention of water and the use of forebays, or gravel basins along ditches, to block silt before it enters culverts. Implementation issues include the fact of private property and lack of control, as well as the inability and undesirability of imposing undue burdens.

Harry Wolhandler again noted importance of educational awareness but in a gradual way, including through demonstration projects such as the rain garden, and by staying with one topic at a time until the HCC’s message is communicated.

Common Threads
The June/July issue has a deadline of May 20.  Mr. Wolhandler plans to submit a small article on the Harris Center purchase of the rail trail parcel and will include a map; for the following issue, the proposed topic is “why a rain garden?”

Reports on other town committees
Don Scott reported on the Trails Committee projects.  Members noted it would be nice to have printed maps of the nearby trails but understand the risks associated with “spreading the word,” including overuse and risk to abutting property owners’ privacy.

At the June meeting, the HCC plans to set a public hearing date on the rain garden project. Don Scott explained the shoreland permit by notification process, which is a streamlined permitting process for minimal impact projects. It requires a $100 fee and will require photos and a natural heritage bureau filing. Mr. Scott is handling the paperwork and filings.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.