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Letter: Water Resources Committee had every chance to back nitrogen study

By   /   March 25, 2013  /   1 Comment

To the editor:

I am a long-standing member of one of Westport’s most persistent special interest groups. We sit on town boards and committees, and most of those I have worked with over 25 years share my special interest. They, like me, want to help our town make decisions that serve to preserve the town we love. We want to help clean up the Westport River, support our schools so our kids have opportunities to be all they can and want to be, provide recreational opportunities for everyone in town,  create opportunities for new and existing businesses, save our fragile landscape and natural resources and create affordable housing opportunities for young and old. In short, we want Westport to remain the special place it has always been and we want our kids to be able to live here if they choose. This is not a bad agenda. There are those who would have you believe that the likes of me are the devil. That’s a hard case to make, so they make stuff up as they go along.

Why do we make them so angry? I think I know. They want control, and they think they have all the answers. They don’t trust Town Meeting or Westport taxpayers to make the right decisions. When they want something to happen their way, too many people disagree. So, they meddle. They micromanage. They lie.

Claude Ledoux puts out so much misinformation that it’s hard to know where to begin in refuting it all. He portrays people like me as pushing a sewer agenda. I never served on the Water and Sewer Committee years ago. I voted against it at Town Meeting. I have never been in favor of sewering the town. What I am in favor of is identifying what’s polluting our river and doing something about it. We have a lot of options short of sewers, and it’s up Westport voters to decide.

Mr. Ledoux characterizes the Westport River Watershed Alliance as pushing programs through without the town having a say. How exactly does that work? I guess they haven’t asked permission to run their education programs in our schools. All that pesky water sampling they’ve done for free on the river for the past several decades certainly is a little presumptuous, but I guess you could say it was for the good of the river. Maybe Claude knows something we don’t know about what their actual intentions are. River Day probably has some underlying malicious intent, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out. Claude probably has an idea. I’ll ask him.

Apparently Mary Lou Daxland is still a member of the Community Preservation Committee. Who knew? She hasn’t attended a meeting since last year’s Town Meeting when the attack on CPA failed. I thought she had quit in a huff, just like Claude did. She showed up last week to vote against phase 2 of the Bread and Cheese Brook Study. Almost everything she says about CPA in her letter to the editor is incorrect. She describes Norton’s move to reduce their CPA surcharge. That’s a pretty good trick, since Norton has never adopted CPA. Maybe she lives in some parallel universe where the truth is what you want it to be.

Mr. Ledoux criticizes the CPC as being dominated by south end special interests. Five members live north of Old County Road, four live south of Old County Road. One south ender is Mary Lou Daxland, who never comes to meetings, and sides with Claude against CPA. She and Claude were very vocal in their efforts to abolish CPA in Westport. Claude, a south ender, used to sit on CPC, but when the move to abolish it failed, he quit.

Tim Gillespie

Westport

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1 Comment

  1. Claude Ledoux says:

    Corrective comments
    Here’s some reminders to keep things in perspective. I do wish we could have a proper public forum so issues could be fully discussed, we don’t, so here’s the other side of the story.

    The Estuaries Committee’s mission only deals with the Westport River. To the neglect of thousands that live within the Devol, Sawdy, Wattupa and other watersheds.

    The close relationship between Community Preservation Committee (CPC), Estuaries Committee (EC), and WRWA is well documented in my previous letters.

    Considering the above situations it was no surprise to learn about the hurried February 13 action of CPC/Estuaries/WFA funding of the phase 2 contract between the Town, UMass D., WRWA, with “continued assessment” programs by WRWA and Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC) to monitor effects of “remedial efforts and/or projects”.
    Combined actions culminating in CPC approval are brought to a vote of Town Meeting. This is used as justification that the process IS REPRESENTATIVE.
    Not true, TM votes on a done deal, the deliberative process does not involve representative citizenry. If this is OK with you then you accept this status, I don’t. Special interests are not qualified or authorized to make decisions on behalf of all citizens without proper representation. That’s the crux of the decision that we all have to make based on our beliefs.

    There are questionable aspects to this application that were ignored and would have been subjected to representative review by the Water Resources Committee.
    For example: Questionable MEP buildout values and overestimated Agricultural contributions, I flagged both in Jan. 2012 and was ignored, my farming memo of 9-14-12 finally struck home. Also questionable is; BBC critique of MEP Nitrogen values, discrepancies in Nitrogen values of MEP and Univ. of New- Hampshire measurements, the town is excluded from review, control and the results of the data that it funded.
    The application was filed by WFA for the Town’s Water resources committee without committee knowledge, by reference to previous contracts it specifies the contract is between UMD and WRWA, sampling by WRWA, that previously false assumptions would be investigated by WRWA and BBC. It implies many future years of participation “monitor effects of remedial actions and projects”. It neglects to correct the CPC funding to reflect WRWA’s decision to do the sampling free of charge, reducing CPC funding by $10,000, from $20 to $10K.

    This one sided situation is what prompted three Selectmen to appoint the Water Resources Committee in June of 2012 insuring representation from ALL Town Precints and instituting control of all Water issues to an official Town agency accountable to the voters.

    Some historical review is in order:

    The first contract application to CPC by (EC), March 9, 2012 requesting Fy13 and 14 funds of $60,000.00, for “phase 1” and “phase 2”. $30,000.Was approved for phase 1.
    The contract was between the Town, UMD and Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) it specified WRWA and the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC) to continue assessment programs.

    Next a much different document was submitted to CPC by the Chairman on June 12, 2012. CPC chair allowed 5 minutes review of the 14 page contract and Committee approval was summarily granted by majority. The contract specified sampling by WRWA, sampling would finish in December of 2013 and results would be discussed in a meeting with WRWA in the spring of 2014, without Town review.

    On October 17, 2012 EC Chair also a CPC and WRWA member presented a one page request to WWRMC requesting their submission to CPC for “phase 2” $30,000.00 approval. WWRMC expressed their concern for the Town being by-passed in decision making and lack of data review. Action was postponed until those concerns were addressed by the EC.

    On February 13, 2013 an action by CPC/Estuaries/WFA resulted in funding of the “phase 2” contract between the Town, UMass D., WRWA, with “continued assessment” programs by WRWA and BBC to monitor effects of “remedial efforts and/or projects”.

    The outcome of all this is continuing contractual arrangements without official Town agency supervision authority, data review, financial oversight and monitoring.

    The reason given for this action that there was an urgent need to complete the analysis is a red herring. Nor is the $10,000.00 WFA funding share crucial, CPC has about $1.2 Million allowable for spending in fiscal 2014 and more than needed available for fiscal 2013. The hurried WFA application to CPC in February is not justified since Town meeting was not until early May, two months away, plenty of time for working out Town protection measures.
    None of the previous Town funds already expanded were in danger of being “wasted”. Since by reference to the “Phase 1”contract all data resulting from phase 1 would be delivered to the Town if phase 2 was not funded.

    To clear up misconceptions: 1- There is no phase 2 contract yet. This remains to be developed. 2- Phase 2 is only a small step in the long term evolution of more research and solutions development and implementation. Its definitely NOT an end all cure of Nitrogen problems. That will be an evolutionary endeavor. That’s why it needs to be under representative control.

    Finally Tim your reference to “claude Ledoux thinks the project is not needed” is an insult. I have never made such statements and have endorsed the SMAST findings and continuing work. My objections are that the Town’s directions and expenses need to be under Town control and not decided in the recesses of a foreign office. What’s wrong with that? Your unproven assumption is a continuation of insulting and slanderous statements in your previous letters. There’s no need of it.

    Claude Ledoux 3-28-2013

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