TIVERTON — The scheduling of 16 fishing tournaments on Stafford Pond this summer by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has led to convening of a meeting between town officials, local legislators, and the two DEM representatives involved in making the decision.
The meeting, which a DEM spokesman said is not public, is set for 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, in the DEM Director’s Conference Room on the 4th Floor of the DEM offices, at 235 Promenade Place in Providence (401.222.2771).
Asked why the public, the press, representatives from the residents on the pond, and from the fishing clubs, could not attend the meeting, DEM spokeswoman Gail Mastrati, said, “[t]he purpose of the meeting is to give local officials an opportunity to discuss their concerns related to fishing
tournaments on Stafford Pond with the Department, and it is my
understanding that this is not a public meeting.”
Attending from DEM, said Ms. Mastrati, will be Associate Director for Natural Resources Larry Mouradjian and Assistant Director for Natural Resources Catherine Sparks.
From Tiverton, Stone Bridge Water Authority Superintendent Carl Destremps and Board Moderator Frank Raposa will also be present, Mr. Destremps said.
The guest list will also include Tiverton Town Administrator James Goncalo, Town Councilor Bill Gerlach, Conservation Commission Chairman Tom Ramatowski and commission member Patricia Hilton.
State Senator Christopher S. Ottiano and Rep. Jay Edwards will also be attending, Mr. Goncalo said. No representatives from bass fishing clubs that requested the scheduling of the tournaments have been invited, nor have representatives from the Stafford Pond Homeowners Association, the DEM spokeswoman said.
The Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) has also not been invited.
Dana Chadwick, a spokeswoman for DOH has said that DOH is concerned with the quality of drinking water in Stafford Pond and “is opposed to the recreational use of drinking water supplies.”
Stafford Pond is a source of drinking water for much of Tiverton. DEM stocks the pond with fish, has jurisdiction over the boat ramp leading onto the pond, and its Bureau of Natural Resources is responsible for the establishment and conduct of fishing tournaments on the pond.
The decision to hold the meeting, originally scheduled for Feb. 15, follows concerns expressed by the Tiverton Town Council at its meeting Feb. 11, and local legislators, after hearing about DEM’s fishing tournament announcement.
Tiverton officials said they were never consulted ahead of time about the fishing tournament plans.
Among the issues expected to be discussed at the meeting are whether porta-potties will be installed at the boat ramp by DEM during the tourneys, the risks of urination and defecation into the pond by contestants and boaters, enforcement by DEM of its rules and regulations during the tourneys, parking, traffic, safety, and precautions such as boat wash-downs to be taken against invasive species that might arrive in contestants’ boats.
Other concerns voiced by the conservation commission nearby residents involve protection of the pond’s watershed.
The watershed includes property along Eagleville Road to the north of the pond where the DEM has authorized the operation of a composting facility.
That facility, doing business as Site-Ready Materials and Construction Co., accepts all of the yard waste generated by the City of Fall River, and manufactures it into compost, which it then sells.
Site Ready also accepts all of the City of Fall River’s single stream recycling, and its property close to the Stafford Pond watershed is used for its recycling operations.
Tiverton’s concerns about the proximity of Site Ready’s composting and recycling operations to the watershed for the town’s water supply have been expressed to DEM.
On Feb. 18, Ms. Mastrati said the department’s Office of Waste Management (OWM) had renewed Site Ready’s registration, allowing it to continue to its composting operations at Eagleville Road.
No officials from OWM involved in the oversight of Site Ready’s activities, are slated to attend the Thursday Stafford Pond meeting.