Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boating Mishap Photos Just In!

Here's a preview of my next post on that boat mishap on Manchaug Pond.

An MPA member and his cousin caught the whole story in photo form on a cell phone and have shared it with us - from the "out of control" to the "crashed on the rocks."

More to come!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tonight Vote for Protection of Manchaug Pond Watershed!

Sutton voters! Tonight your raised hand, your YEA! is needed at the fall
Town Meeting
Monday October 19, 2009
Early Learning Center Auditorium

in support of two articles which will preserve 378 acres of open space in the Manchaug Pond watershed thereby directly benefiting the water quality of Manchaug Pond, protecting wildlife corridor... not to mention give cell phone coverage to the area.

Here they are:

Article 3
Article 3 sponsored by the Board of Selectmen is a request to borrow $280,000, through a debt exclusion vote, for the purpose of becoming a co-holder, with the State of Massachusetts, of an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) on 314 acres of land currently owned by Whittier Farms Inc. APR is a voluntary program that offers an alternative to owners of farmland who choose to see the property protected rather than sell it for development. The APR program offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their property in exchange for a permanent deed restriction that prevents the land from ever being developed for anything other than a farm purpose. The Whittiers are seeking the APR for 378 acres of land: 314 acres on Town Farm Road and Douglas Road in Sutton and 64 acres in Oxford.

The State Department of Agriculture has determined that the Town’s share to co-hold the APR is 10% of the State’s acquisition price. A special election is planned for Tuesday November 24th, 2009 for the voters to consider the debt exclusion of $280,000. If Town Meeting does not support this article or the voters turn down the debt exclusion then the Whittier’s will have the option of withdrawing from the APR agreement with the State and not protecting the 314 acres in Sutton.

Article 4
Article number 4 authorizes the Board of Selectmen to purchase for $24,000 approximately 5-6 acres of land located at 150 Town Farm Rd, currently owned by Whittier Farms Inc, for the purpose of installing a cell tower. The article further authorizes the Board of Selectmen to lease the property for the purpose of cellular and public safety communications. The property in question is located at the highest point in Town at an elevation of approximately 830 feet. Town bylaws restrict the locations of cell towers to Commercial and Industrial property or Town owned land held in the care and custody of the Board of Selectmen. Our goal is to construct a cell tower that will help address the lack of cell phone coverage in West Sutton and generate revenue from Cell carriers that will be used towards the debt service on $280,000 borrowed to pay for the APR on the Whittier’s property. The Town will need to vote annually at Town meeting to use revenues from the cell tower to offset the debt service from the debt exclusion vote.

The sale of the 5-6 acres to the Town is contingent upon passage of the APR at Town Meeting and passage of the Debt Exclusion vote on the APR. In addition, in the Purchase and Sales agreement between the Town and the Whittier’s property there is a reversion clause that calls for the property to revert back to the Whittier’s or their heirs, if after a minimum of 20 years the Town no longer is using the 5-6 acres for a Cell Tower or Cellular communications.

Sutton Voters Decide Tonight - Protection of 378 Watershed Acres

Towns Looking to Protect 378 Acres at Whittier Farms
Selectmen support APR on Whittier land


Town Administrator Jim Smith updated the board on a proposed Agricultural Preservation Restriction on Whittier Farms. Smith said the Whittier family has been working on the measure with the state's Department of Agricultural Resources and it appears that an offer from the state will come in September. The offer would initiate a time period during which the town needs to decide if it wants to contribute monetarily to this preservation restriction. Town meeting approval is required to do so.

The APR is a voluntary program that offers an alternative to owners of farmland who choose to see the property protected rather than sell it for development. Smith said that without the APR the most logical use of such land is for residential housing development. The Whittiers are seeking the APR for 378 acres of land: 312 acres on Town Farm Road and Douglas Road in Sutton and 66 acres in Oxford.

The APR program offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their property in exchange for a permanent deed restriction that prevents the land from ever being developed for anything other than a farm purpose. The goal is to allow the land to still be used for farming while preventing its acquisition by housing developers. Smith said the state is offering roughly $10,000 per acre. Towns usually contribute between 10 percent and 20 percent of the cost, with Sutton looking to contribute in the 10 percent range. Smith said that the state ultimately sets the percentage but that Sutton's percentage could be lower because it is a "Right to Farm" community.

Using what he called "rough numbers" because the state has yet to make a bona fide offer, Smith said the north parcel of Whittier Land on Town Farm Road would protect 175 acres under the APR, with the state contributing $1,422,000 and the town $136,000. The south parcel, which is along Douglas Road, contains 137.5 acres for which the state would be expected to pay $1,692,000 while the town would need to come up with $144,000. In total, the state would pay almost $3.2 million, Sutton would pay $280,000, and Oxford would have to come up with $66,000 for the 66 acres in that town.

Both boards of selectmen would need to approve the warrant for the APR, Smith said, and then send the warrant to town meeting to approve the funding. He is recommending a debt exclusion — where the money is paid off over a period of years. Smith said the payment of roughly $300,000 from the operating budget would simply be too much to absorb. A special election would be needed to complete the process.

Smith said he is tentatively thinking of holding the special election on Nov. 24. He acknowledged that holding the election on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is "tricky" but that it is hard to find the perfect time. He'd hoped to combine the special election with the primary for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy, but the state told him that nothing else could be on the ballot.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just in - Weather on Manchaug Pond

Large snowflakes, 1 1/2 inch and larger, have been falling on Manchaug Pond for a few hours this afternoon.

The photographer tells me that Canada geese were flying over

as well as three large birds she could not identify.

Autumn Reds at Yesterday's Cleanup

Unfiltered stormwater, throught pipes such as this one, will be the target of future s.319 NonPoint Source Pollution Grant. Water quality up stream and the activities and practices in the watershed are important and contributing factors to the water quality of Aldrich Mill Pond (at Sutton Falls Camping Area) and Manchaug Pond and beyond to the Mumford and Blackstone River systems.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

2009 Fall Cleanup a Success!

All for one and one for all! Annual Fall Cleanup 2009 a success! ending with chocolate, blueberry and choc. chip muffins and a box of Joe!

18 volunteers from 11 households cleaned the state public access boat ramp, Manchaug Road from Central Turnpike to Torrey Road, Torrey to Oak St, Shore Road, and Lackey Road as well as the lake shoreline areas which were not cleaned during the spring cleanup event. Whew!

Covering the Shoreline and lake areas:

The public boat ramp:

Along Shore Road and the conservation land:

Also a few invasive weeds not picked up during the Weed Cleanup a few weeks ago also made there way to the truck!

Along Manchaug Road:

Strange finds included a distributor cap and a part to a high tech weather machine or something!

Great job everyone! It was a pleasure working with all of you - we sure covered a lot of area.

(I also was told the story about last week's boating accident from two eyewitnesses. We're working on getting the pics, video and story to you via the blog! Stay tuned.)

Manchaug Pond Needs YOU!

Come on, we want YOU! Lake Cleanup this morning! Rise and shine! :)

See you around 9 at the boat ramp. I bought muffins - the big ones from BJ's.

I have rubber gloves too to keep your gloves clean. If you've never joined us before you'll find the work easy, the company and conversation good, tremendous scenery, and a superb mission/purpose - the care of your Manchaug Pond.

Don't just let the MPA Board of Directors do the work - lend a hand - even for a 1/2 hour!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tomorrow - Join us for the Annual Clean-up!

Our annual Fall Clean-up is tomorrow morning, Saturday, October 17th from 9 to noon. The town has the truck parked waiting for us to get to work! Our coordinator wants YOU ALL to come join the MPA Board of Directors as we...

Hit the road!

Hit the Boat Ramp!

Hit the shore!

Our annual clean-up targets litter and illegal dumping in and around the lake. 9:00 am to noon. Meet at the Boat Ramp on Torrey Road to get a bag and fan out from there or take a piece of your own shore or a roadside and get to work. If you thought the Weed Cleanup was hard work- you'll find this a breeze! Thursday we spotted two early birds cleaning up Lackey Road and Manchaug getting a head start on the job.

Thank you to the Sutton Highway Dept. for joining us in this effort with the use of the truck and disposal of trash collected.

Weather Change

Yesterday was Blog Action Day where once a year Blogger asks all those users to write about a given subject. This year the topic is climate change. Given I am not a meteorologist, I will leave the research and speculation about the global climate to others and focus on the weather instead! Sorry Blogger.

Here it is October 16th and what should have been our first frost is actually the morning of our first snow! Snow is falling as we speak, the wind is gusting up and the temperature is at 32 F. The fall foliage, especially in Area 1, has well begun the promised reds, oranges and yellows. Photos will be posted later today.

Also we hope to give you some details/photos/video of the boat involved in Saturday's boating mishap - one of our MPA Board members heard it on the police scanner and is tracking down some details. With Manchaug Pond noted for its rocky shore combined with the early low waterlevel, boat safety has been a big concern. The boat ramp and the campgrounds bring in an ever-changing population of recreational boaters which are not always familiar with the lake.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Turkeys Abundant!

Bow hunters must be in the woods today as the turkeys are hanging out in yards and along the roadsides.

And further down the road, a few more birds are seen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

MassWildlife Trout Hatchery

Lets feed the fish!

Feed them a few pellets at a time and watch them jump!

Or get someone in the back of the pickup to throw it in by the shovelful!

They sure get big! Manchaug Pond is not a stocked pond but brook trout do live in the unnamed tributaries of our watershed. Land worth preserving.

A beautiful ride out to Belchertown, especially this time of year!

No Bites?

So no one wants to take a guess as to where yesterday's photo was taken?

72 visitors since the post - all shy!

or maybe not interested? or not into games?

Anyway, you know those are not gumballs!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yesterday's Adventure

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a ride! Can you guess the destination? This photo is a clue!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Enjoy the Day!

The MPA continues to actively work to preserve our Manchaug Pond! Have YOU joined us?

Do so today!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Your Lake Needs You Next Saturday!

Did you have a good day today? Sure is beautiful around Manchaug Pond!

Next Saturday, plan to spend the morning at Manchaug Pond and have a better day giving back to the lake with people who care for this great natural resource. Join your MPA Board of Directors in giving time to your lake. You and your family and friends can join us as we clean the boat ramp and roadsides around Manchaug Pond of trash from the spring and summer season. We take pride in our lake and want others to do the same. Meet at the State Boat Ramp between 9 and noon. Bring your gloves - we'll provide the bags and the good company as we work together for the lake.


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