Ossipee Must Fund Environmental and Archeological Studies

Ossipee — April 28, 2005 — Before Ossipee can get a town beach, there are a few things they have to do first. As with other state-owned properties, the state must give its okay on the property, looking at whether the development [may] damage any environmental or historical or archeological resources, before it will lease the land to anyone.During last week’s selectman’s meeting on Apri1 18, Selectman Harry Merrow presented a letter he received from the state regarding the steps the town needs to follow before they can open a public beach for the public.

The 1etter, from the Department of Resources and Economic Development’s Division of Parks and Recreation, said the town must take measures to protect rare species and communities as well as wetland areas. Merrow said there are not only rare plants present on the targeted property but also a combination of which is not found anywhere else in the area, the sandy pondshore natural community.

The director, A1lison McLean, wrote that the town will have to present a more detailed proposal to the Park Land Management Team addressing plans to protect those species, including determining permitted and prohibited uses, control of access to the property either on foot or by boat, and limits of the number of people on the beach at one time.

McLean also wrote the town needs to determine the feasibility of getting wetland permits to put up a restroom, a boardwalk and a parking lot. “Wetland issues may render land access as unfeasible,” she wrote. “The town may wish to consider an ‘access by water only’ beach area.”

The town will also be required to do archeological surveys of the area as well. The letter says “The property contains reported and verified archeological findings,” and that a survey and evaluation may be required, based on the sensitivity of the site. Yet, test pits could not be put in just anywhere on the site because of the presence of the rare plant species on the property.

Finally, McLean wrote that the Division of Historical Resources recommended that no development take place in that area, but if so, DHR would require at least a Phase I survey be done with a Phase II evaluation “very likely.”

After reviewing the contents of the letter, Merrow said at the April 25th meeting that the major concerns he sees are the requirements by the state that the town have a plan in place to protect archeological resources and rare plants on the site.

Merrow said the state would have to be involved in the process of identifying those plants and archeological resources. “How do we monitor the rare plant species? I don’t think even they know what they are,” he said. “They [the state] are going to have to do some and we’re going to have to do some,” he said.

Merrow said he had hoped to be able to hold a public informational meeting on the status of the project in May, but at this point, he said, it looks as though the information will not be available in time, and the meeting will have to be in June.

“My guess is we’re going to have to ask for volunteers from the town, who want the beach, to work on this,” Merrow said. He stressed that he believes that it is important for the people who volunteer for the work should be those who are both Ossipee residents and people who want the town beach on Ossipee Lake to become a reality.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Ossipee resident and planning board member Bruce Boutin said “From what I understand, this beach is already used heavily and there is no protection for rare plants or the archeological site.”

“We’ll work through it, Merrow said. “It may take two or three years instead of one, but we’ll work through it.”

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