Voters Asked To OK Land Purchase
By: Mary Stanley
Voters will be asked to approve a total of $775,000 worth of Community Preservation Act funding requests at the upcoming Special Town Meeting.
This week, the community preservation committee gave its stamp of approval to two requests from the town’s conservation department to purchase a total of four parcels of land in and around the Maple Swamp Conservation Lands in East Sandwich. The town is in the process of completing a purchase and sale agreement with the Tarantino Trust, which owns three of the parcels of land, totaling 11.7 acres, and the Schmonsees Trust, which owns the fourth parcel.
“We have been working on purchasing these parcels for about 10 years, now,” said Director of Natural Resources Mark S. Galkowski. According to Town Manager George H. Dunham, the cost of the Tarantino parcels would be $400,000 and the cost of the Schmonsees parcel would be $200,000.
Mr. Galkowski said while all four of these parcels will not create one continuous piece of conservation property connecting the Maple Swamp lands with West Barnstable’s conservation area, it is a move in the right direction.
“The Tarantino parcels will fill in most of the gaps, but we still have a few other gaps that we have to fill. We are well on our way,” he said.
The community preservation committee also approved spending $150,000 to secure permits for a beach management plan at Town Neck Beach and an Old Harbor Inlet Stabilization project. Mr. Dunham estimated that it would take 18 to 24 months to complete the permitting process for both of these projects.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Dunham sought the board of selectmen’s approval to move forward with his CPA fund request to cover the cost of the permits. He told the board that although the town has been looking to the state and federal government to offer financial assistance with either of these projects, the town does not have its permits yet.
The town has been dealing with erosion problems at its beaches for 20 years. A study conducted by Woods Hole Group offered a two-pronged approach to correcting the erosion problems at the beaches. The first part calls for placing sand closer to the Old Harbor Inlet toward Spring Hill Beach, which would increase the beach area by six to seven acres. The second part of the plan includes a structural realignment to repair the inlet. This part of the project calls for using rocks from four small jetties, called groins, along Town Beach and rebuilding the mouth of the Old Harbor Inlet. This would create a sediment process where sand will naturally migrate down the beaches, so that both Town Beach and Spring Hill Beach would benefit.
Mr. Dunham said, while it will take 18 months or more to get the permits, he is still not sure where the funding will come from to complete the restoration project, which he estimated would be in the “hundreds of millions” of dollars.
The committee also approved spending $25,000 from CPA funds for a project to preserve the town’s vital records and historical documents. The application was submitted by Town Clerk Taylor D. White. Although Mr. White originally requested $104,000 which would have covered the preservation of all of the vital records in his possession at the clerk’s office, the CPC approved only $25,000. “This will help to preserve another 10 to 12 books. It keeps the project going,” he said.
With the committee’s approval, the spending now heads to Town Meeting for a vote.
The board of selectmen is expected to vote on the final draft of the warrant at a future selectmen’s meeting.
The Special Town Meeting is scheduled for 7 PM on Monday, November 7.