The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) claims 7,500 square feet of filled earth near the Department of Public Works recycling and disposal facility on Great Plain Avenue is too close to nearby wetlands.
On July 14, the Wetlands Protection Committee, which has issued an enforcement order based on DEP's claim, heard from DPW officials who say the encroachment is not that severe. Attending the meeting were Doug Stewart, Assistant Town Engineer, Mike Pakstis, DPW director and Paul Millet, a wetlands consultant, who presented evidence to back up the DPW's case.
According to a survey conducted by the town, including soil sampling, the actual boundary of the Wetlands is well within that defined by the Wetlands Protection Act.
"It sounds like the DEP made a mistake," said WPC Vice Chair Carlos Gimeno.
A map of the disputed area is marked in colored lines. A blue line denotes the 2010 survey of the area. A red line marks the 1997 survey of the same area, and an orange oval marks the offending area, according to the DEP. Within that circle, the blue and red lines dance around each other slightly, but definitely overlap.
The WPC concluded there was a scientific basis to argue against the DEP's findings. The committee hopes to bring these concerns up with the state office. If necessary, the town is willing to place barriers and restrict further development of the area.
The meeting changed tone as Blake Lukis at the DPW presented a plan to complete a loop of water main under Seaver and Park streets, which would improve water quality. During this, they will also excavate the existing water mains and re-finish the interiors. According to Lucas, this will be done with "Low impact, trench-less technology." The committee concluded this would not impact nearby wetlands, and approved the work.
On Rice street, near the high school and the construction site of the new high school, a patch of land is the proposed site of a high-challenge ropes course for the school. The plan is to sink six treated, wooden poles into the ground, and build a tall climbing structure and "elements" around them. This structure will call for the removal of some trees, which are said to be in poor health due to the surrounding canopy cover. Provided the poles use an environmentally-safe copper treatment, the committee approved the work.