What kind of year was 2007 on the lake? It was the year the New York Times discovered Ossipee and found its “four season ambience” to its liking – even mud season. A fine place to live, its reporter opined, if you like life at a slower pace surrounded by scenic mountains, sparkling lakes and lush woods. The Iron Kettle and Lazy Susan’s were named breakfast nooks of note.
It was also the year that DRED ended years of indecision and closed most of the Natural Area’s shoreline, promising a management plan for the fragile property by next summer. Most boaters honored the decision, and some submitted ideas on low-impact uses that might work there. The closure was the year’s most important lake story, but one that will take years to play out fully.
The Natural Area was just one of the topics on the minds of the people who attended our first annual Lake Representatives Forum, the culmination of a three-year effort to bridge the gap between lake property owner associations, businesses and conservation groups. Issues from water quality to wildlife were discussed, priorities were set and programs were planned for next year. This coming spring we’ll do it again.
Friends and Neighbors
No new milfoil was found in the lake, but the old milfoil was trouble enough. Removal efforts continued on Danforth Pond, and a group of lakefront residents joined with Danforth Bays Camping Resort to form the Friends of Danforth Pond with a goal of securing long-term funding to control the indestructible weed. State money could be available in the coming months, and the Alliance is helping the Friends pursue it.
The Whittier Covered Bridge wasn’t in the forefront of the news during the year, but behind the scenes a small group of preservationists and town officials continued to cobble together the big bucks needed to save the Bearcamp River landmark. As a result of their efforts the Whittier is now one of the State’s seven most important properties to save – good news for everyone, including the kayakers and canoeists who favor the site as their entry to the big lake.
From time to time our neighbor Bob Smart took to his computer to chronicle lake life for those of us who live elsewhere for most of the year and wish we didn’t. Mother Nature had lots of tricks up her sleeve this year, from ice storms to spring floods to frost heaves on Ossipee Lake Road, and Bob was always on the spot to file his unique reports.
Legal Cases Grind On
In contrast to the year’s welcome news were the stories that just wouldn’t go away.
The long-playing drama that is Ossipee Lake Marina produced another chapter when Freedom’s Zoning Board scrapped the boat storage limits it set in 1997 to protect the lake’s residential community. On a 3-1 vote the Board authorized “as many boats as can fit within the setbacks,” as one Selectman memorably put it in arguing the marina’s case (as a private citizen, not an elected official).
A Superior Court judge threw the ruling out but the Selectmen appealed to State Supreme Court, ensuring another year of litigation. Consider that in 2008 the Town Attorney will be fighting in court to support the additional boats that the same Town Attorney fought in court to prevent in 2003. Your Freedom tax dollars at work.
The marina’s legal issues have been a news mainstay for a decade, but for longevity nothing beats the Donald Lee case. Lee is the man who admitted altering the course of the Lovell River to build a sandbar – an endeavor so successful that the neighboring Bluffs Association’s beach and boat basin were filled with thousands of tons of sand and debris.
A Superior Court judge found Lee guilty of conducting a deceptive 18-year cat and mouse game with State wetlands officials and directed him to “forthwith” present a plan to clean up the mess, at an estimated cost of $1 million, or else face stiff fines and new charges by the Attorney General.
That was 15 months ago. On January 1 the Lee case will enter its 20th year with no clean-up plan in place, no stiff fines or new charges by the Attorney General and no court date set for a Motion for Contempt charge that was filed in July. Your State tax dollars at work.
Toasts to the New Year
Will you join us in a toast to some of our fellow local organizations that made a difference this year? Cheers to Focus:Tamworth for its staying power and its commitment to keep facts at the forefront of the debate over the racetrack.
When DRED wanted to know what the local conservation commissions thought should be done about the Natural Area, the heads of the Effingham and Ossipee commissions stepped forward and helped spur the State agency to take its first decisive action in the matter.
Kudos also to Green Mountain Conservation Group, whose leader seemed to be in the newspaper every month with a new easement preserving local land forever, for the benefit of all.
Happy New Year, everyone!