Meeting Minutes of the Select Board
|Location:||Town offices||Date: March 18, 2021|
|Opened:||7:00 pm||Adjourned: 9:30 pm|
Select Board Members: Jay Jacobs, Kathy Scott, Andrea Hodson _____________
Attendees: David Belknap, Mike Wilder, Ted Braun, Mike Tollett, Don Scott, Chick Colony, Steve Weber, Josh Houle, Ben Dexter, Julia Pakradooni, Bryan Kingsbury, Cathy Lovas, John Newcombe, Barbara Watkins, Becca Kelly, Terry Watkins
Health Officer David Belknap reviewed the issue of the spring’s malfunction, though the exact cause is still uncertain. Mr. Belknap, Steve Weber and Mike Wilder all spoke to recent findings and recommendations for moving forward to repair. A new well point may be installed. They will ask John Farwell to join them for a meeting at the spring to discuss. The office will help schedule.
The Moderator, Town Clerk and Select Board confirmed Town Meeting will be at Wells Memorial School, outdoors, on Saturday, May 22, beginning at 9:00 am. The rain date will be Saturday, May 29, at 9:00 am. Updates about any weather delays will be posted at the town website and on the Town’s Facebook page.
The Select Board roughed out a timeline to put a plan in place for the Silver Lake recreation area. The board envisions the plan to address parking and beach ordinances and signage will be completed by the end of April. Andrea Hodson outlined the goals of defining the specific problem, brainstorming recommendations/ solutions, commencing plan implementation and monitoring progress/troubleshooting as needed.
George Colony presented research findings of the Stoney Beach Research Group. (Copy of the Report is in the public file at town offices.) Mr. Colony explained the various entities involved in ownership and/or jurisdiction of the different parcels of land along the water. The research group seeks support and action of the town to put back in place, and enforce, a parking plan it states was adopted by voters in 2010 but never implemented. In analyzing lakes around the state, and lake acreage to parking space ratios, Mr. Colony emphasized that Silver Lake has more than four times the state average for parking spaces per acreage of water. Silver Lake is 340 acres. They urge the board to reduce the current number of 75 spaces for reasons of public safety on land, water and the road, protection of the lake, decreased risk of invasive species, erosion control and decrease in lake loading, particularly on the weekends.
Recommendations include a parking plan, included in the report, a curfew changed from the current 11pm – 6am to 9pm to 6am, increased and more visible signage, and increased enforcement by the police department. Mr. Colony emphasized that the parking plan, as proposed, would have handled all but three of the most crowded weekends last summer.
Jay Jacobs spoke to the difficulty of controlling lake capacity as this is not solidly defined by the state and Silver Lake is a state body body of water. He emphasized the importance of public access and the need to balance the competing interests and rights of the public. Requests to regulate the lake would have to be submitted by the Lake Association or Beach Committee to Marine Patrol.
The parking plan was reviewed more closely and the SB and Stoney Beach group discussed what the town can and can’t do based on private or state or town property. They also discussed safety issues, land and water traffic over the course of last summer, an unusual year given the Covid crisis, parking, beach and late night activity, and current ordinances and current and potential signage. The DOT would handle signage along the 700 feet of Breed Road that is part of the road to public waters.
Barbara Watkins commented that the 2010 plan, approved by the state, called for no parking on the south side of Breed Road. Since then, with signage never put in place there and no parking wasn’t enforced, the Silver Lake residents have experienced an overload. She doesn’t feel a reduction to 40 to 50 parking spaces would solve the problem. Kathy Scott stated she has spoken to several DOT representatives, who informed her the Town just needs to go to Bill Lambert with what the town wants. Parking can’t be overly restricted, but she believes it can and should be managed to protect the town.
Mr. Jacobs raised the concern that boaters were not represented in the discussion and believes the parking scenario he described is fair to allow public access. He also stated a public hearing is required before a change is made to reduce the number of spots to 30. He believes the town should have the right to vote on it. George Colony believes the fair approach is to use the acres per parking space formula and reiterated that Harrisville is well below the state average, offering far more spaces than the acreage warrants. He shared a list of towns where parking is managed and urged Harrisville to act similarly, that 30 spaces would be on par with Harrisville Pond, Dublin Lake and elsewhere.
Ms. Watkins added that a public hearing was held in 2010, and a plan approved by the SB and subsequently approved at Town Meeting, to prohibit parking on the south side of Breed Road. Andrea Hodson asked if the plan currently proposed is the same plan presented to the town in 2010, and Ms. Watkins stated that it was. Kathy Scott added that she has a copy of a parking regulation from July of 2010, signed by a DOT traffic engineering administrator, authorizing restricted/prohibited parking for 700 feet along the south side of Breed Road. The question, Mr. Jacobs stated is why the signs subsequently installed did not reflect this memo. Mr. Colony noted that the wrong signs went up and those there now state “No parking on pavement.” Kathy Scott noted that all the current DOT officials are on board with whatever the town wants.
The question of safety, and how unsafe the area actually is, was debated.
Andrea Hodson moved for next week to create the action plan to implement the proposed plan according to the map presented. Mr. Jacobs believes a public hearing is required. Ms. Hodson wondered why if it was already presented in 2009 or 2010.
Mr. Jacobs preferred to take more time for discussion, public input and fact-checking, acknowledging that parking is the number one issue and this could be agreed on and next week, discussion could focus on what occurred in 2009 or 2010. Ms. Hodson asked if the board were to agree with the plan, what would it take to implement this parking arrangement. She asked Kathy Scott to work with the Stoney Beach Group to figure out the steps required to move the plan forward.
The board approved the idea of a table to be set up by Consolidated Communications at Town Meeting to answer residents’ questions about Fiber Service or facilitate sign-up.
Audio Loop Technology – The board will research further the information and idea presented by Leslie Voiers for new technology at town offices to enhance sound for the hearing impaired.
The next meeting of the SB is Friday, March 26, at 9:00 am.