SUMMARY OF JOINT MEETING BETWEEN THE DEXTER TOWN COUNCIL AND THE DEXTER UTILITY DISTRICT SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 TOWN COUNCIL CHAMBERS
DEXTER - The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. by Jonathan W. Reitman, a mediator from Brunswick was had been asked to facilitate the discussion. Present from the Town Council were Roger Brawn, Dean Thompson, Sherman Leighton, Rick Goodwin, Judy Wilbur Craig and Fred Sherburn. Present from the Utility District were Gregory Brawn, Lee Kaufman, Hartland, and Peter Mealey.
Also present were George Powell from the Maine Department of Conservation and Peter Newkirk from the Maine Department of Transportation.
The meeting was called to explore whether the parties (the District and the Town) could reach an agreement on questions raised by the Maine Department of Transportation's plan to improve a boat launch on Lake Wassookeag (“Big Lake”). The launch is approximately 700 feet from the District's intake pipe on the south side of the Lake. The Lake provides the drinking water for the Town.
Prior to tonight's meeting, the District had filed suit in Superior Court to prevent DOT's improvement of the existing boat launch, fearing that use of that launch so close to the intake pipe could jeopardize the quality of the drinking water. The Town had filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit and the Court had denied that motion. It was recommended that the parties try to mediate their dispute as an alternative to pursuing further litigation.
The meeting began by the mediator's explanation of the process and the groundrules. Both parties affirmed their intention was to try to resolve their dispute during this mediation.
Members of the Council stated their primary concerns:
George Powell said that his Bureau's mission was to enhance public recreational boating facilities in a way which is protective of water quality. He mentioned that he has access to DOC grants which can be made to municipalities to help acquire land and develop a site for a boat launch. He also mentioned that the Land for Maine's Future has a Water Access fund which can be used to help purchase land.
It was noted that the existing boat launch facility on Small Lake is adequate for small boats, which can come into Big Lake under the bridge, except at high water times of the year. It was suggested that by controlling water flow through the dam, the town could make that passage more available to more boats. It would still not be possible for larger boats to put in at Small Lake. The number of such large boats was estimated as between 10%-50% of the total number of boats which use the two lakes.
It was noted that there are approximately 24-26 landowners on Big Lake who have constructed their own boat launches on their property. Many of those individuals would probably use a centralized facility on Big Lake, if one could be created without threatening the Town's water supply.
The DOC's Site Selection criteria for boat launches were distributed. When the District was asked how far away from the intake any boat launch would have to be in order for them to feel comfortable, reference was made to a state suggestion of a minimum of 1,000 feet. (George Powell said he was aware of only one boat launch which was within 700', such as the one under discussion at Big Lake).
The District acknowledged that there had not been any scientific determination that use of the DOT boat launch would definitely harm the water quality, although the District Board has received advice that this proposed site is too close. Action: In order to quantify the degree of risk which the proposed DOT site might pose to the Town's drinking water, the District will undertake a technical, scientific analysis to quantify this risk.
It was suggested that the Town pursue other alternatives besides the existing DOT boat launch (ones which are further away from the water intake pipe). The sites would have to meet the DOC's site selection criteria (a willing buyer, etc.) and would require a minimum of 6 parking spaces if the DOC was to help fund it. Action: A committee will be formed by Gregory and Roger Brawn, supported by Acting Town Manager David Pearson, to explore these alternative sites.
Both the District's scientific analysis and the joint search for alternative boat launch sites will be completed within 60 days (by Thanksgiving).
The District representatives acknowledged that if, after pursuing alternative sites in good faith, it was determined that no alternative sites exist on Big Lake, they would reconsider their position on the DOT boat launch site. They made no commitment to change their position under those circumstances, but said they would entertain discussions about how such a boat launch might be built in a way to avoid any significant risk to the Town's water.
Summary Prepared by Jonathan W. Reitman, Esq.
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|