LWA Annual Joint Meeting with the Lake Waramaug Task Force
September 8, 2013 at the Lake Waramaug Country Club
Paul Frank called the meeting to order at 2:30.
REPORT OF LAKE WARAMAUG AUTHORITY, Chair Ed Berner and P.O. Pat Kessler
Lake Patrol Report: Officer Kessler reported that it had been a good year, with no accidents. Once again, motor boat traffic was much lighter than in previous years. At the same time, kayak and canoe traffic was much heavier, mainly in the area of the State Park, where Clark Outdoors is doing an increasing business in canoe and kayak rentals.
The officers put in 24 patrol shifts for a total of 182 hours. There were only a few violations, including one for failure to carry a life jacket and one for a child standing in a vessel while it was underway. There were no violations where boats had failed to be inspected at the boat launch, at least that the patrols saw while they were out on the Lake. The officers also assisted four stranded or disabled vessels and performed four water rescues where kayaks or canoes had tipped over. In none of the tip-overs did the boaters have life jackets on board, and Officer Kessler noted that in the case of rentals from the State Park, Clark Outdoors is responsible for life jackets, not the renters. And he told us that the officers routinely make contact with boaters to perform safety checks and talk to the boaters to educate them about boating regulations and safe practices.
Ed Berner thanked Officer Kessler for the great job that he and the other officers have done.
Slow-No-Wake Zone: Paul reported that the DEEP will hold a public hearing on the petition to create a Slow-No-Wake zone at the narrow end of the Lake basin between the State Park and Arrow Point on Friday, November 1st, at 6:00 p.m. at the Warren Community Center (the old Town Hall). The public is invited to attend and express their views. [Please Note: Subsequent to the meeting, the DEEP changed the date and time of the hearing to Friday, November 8th, at 6:30 p.m.]
Tom McGowan showed us the proposed area on a large map, noting that it would be a very confined area about 1750 feet in length. A regulation already exists that requires motor boats to observe the slow-no-wake speed of 6 mph or fewer within 100 feet of the shore, a dock or float, and moored vessels. So the new zone would be "filling in the blank," as Tom put it, since the shoreline is already covered.
Paul reiterated that this proposal was an initiative of the Lake Waramaug Authority, not the Association, and that it was prompted by the safety concerns of Washington's Resident State Trooper, Steve Sordi.
BOAT LAUNCH REPORT, Peter Bonachea
Peter reported that the boat launch had operated smoothly this summer and that weeds were found on only one boat. This shows that the program is working and that the boating public understands that boats must be weed-free to enter the Lake.
As of the end of Labor Day weekend, there had been 718 launches: 152 for Lake residents and 566 for visitors, 21 of whom came from one of the three Lake towns; 98 of the visitors came more than once.
There was an increase in the number of day-use stickers issued and also an increase in out-of-state visitors, primarily from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Florida. Overall usage, however, was down.
TRAFFIC PATROL REPORT, Officer Pat Kessler
As we did last year, the Association has arranged for traffic patrols on the Lake roads on selected weekends, during random hours between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Officer Kessler reported that the patrols have proved productive and that it appears motorists are becoming aware that officers are patrolling in these areas, due to recorded vehicle speeds being within the posted speed limits. The officers also conducted radar in various locations around the Lake and recorded the following average speeds: between 25 and 31 mph on West Shore Road/Lake Waramaug Road/Golf Links Road; between 35 and 42 mph on Route 45; and between 25 and 31 mph on North Shore Road in the area of Arrow Point. And tickets were issued in the following locations: 5 warnings for traveling fast on West Shore Road; 3 warnings for traveling fast on North Shore Road in the area of Bliss Road; and 2 written warnings for traveling fast on East Shore Road in the area of the boat launch.
THE LAKE WARAMAUG TASK FORCE, Chair Linda Frank
Linda thanked everyone for being here and for all their support over the years. She noted that the Lake has been "stunningly clear" this year and emphasized that we must continue to be ever-vigilant, especially for invasive weeds, in order to maintain the gains that have been made.
TESTIMONIAL TO PAUL FRANK, Tom McGowan
Before Tom gave us his State of the Lake report, he wanted "to digress for a moment," he said, noting that our President, Paul Frank - who has held that office since 2001 - has only eight months left in his final term. Tom emphasized how much time Paul has spent on Association work during those years, telling us that "there is not a day that goes by that he doesn't think or do something about the Lake." One of Paul's major accomplishments during his tenure as President was to oversee the forging of the Lake Waramaug Agreement - in which the State agreed that there would be no State launch on the Lake in exchange for a public boat launch in Washington for a limited number of boats that would be inspected for invasive weeds - and its subsequent implementation. The implementation of the Agreement took a tremendous amount of time and attention to detail during the lengthy construction of the launch and the establishment of the protocol for the inspection program, and Tom told us that Paul had to expend a great deal of effort to help keep the whole process moving over the course of several years. Paul, he said, "has been a treasure." With his customary modesty, Paul said that all the work that had been done during his Presidency had been a team effort, adding that "I played a minor role." And he noted that while he felt that Tom had exaggerated his achievements that "it's no exaggeration to say that this Lake would not be what it is today without Tom McGowan."
THE STATE OF THE LAKE, Tom McGowan
"The Lake has been fabulous this summer," Tom told us. Phosphorus levels are at their lowest since record-keeping began in 1982. There are a number of reasons for this, chief among them the in-lake restoration systems. As he has reported at past meetings, Tom reminded us that the layer-aeration systems are now turned on briefly just before the Lake turns over in the spring and fall: this allows naturally occurring iron in the Lake to bind with phosphorus in the presence of oxygen, canceling the ability of the phosphorus to support algae or weed growth. The Frost pumping system on the end of Arrow Point has the same effect, drawing iron-rich water from near the bottom of the Lake and oxidizing it so that the iron binds with phosphorus. The in-Lake systems also improve the habitat for cold-water fish and for zooplankton, which eat algae and are nature's way of controlling it.
The new State law banning the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers - which both the Task Force and the Association supported - has also had a good effect, Tom said, along with a greater awareness among lakeside residents that it is especially important to maintain their septic systems, and not to blow leaves into the Lake during fall clean-up. The Task Force and the Association continue to monitor development applications around the Lake, trying to ensure that people abide by land-use regulations and follow best practices in their construction projects, including installing biofilters to capture run-off before it reaches the Lake. All of these efforts are having an effect in reducing phosphorus and the growth of algae in the Lake. The excellent state of the Lake, Tom told us, is a "testimony to the whole history of the work that we've done."
PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS, Paul Frank
Paul gave us some highlights of the work of the Association committees:
When Paul asked if there were any further questions or comments, longtime Association member and former Board member Maria Allen stood and thanked Paul on behalf of the membership for his long and productive Presidency, and asked for a rising vote of thanks to applaud his work, which the members present enthusiastically provided.
- Roads and Traffic: Paul thanked Chair Betty Sutter for her recent work arranging for the State to make much-needed paving repairs to West Shore Road.
- Lake Use: The Association continues to encourage the creation and enforcement of regulations that ensure the balanced use of the Lake.
- Land Use: Co-Chairs Richard Kleinberg and Heather Allen have been monitoring development applications around the Lake; attending land use meetings and public hearings; and working on suggestions for regulations in Washington that will enhance protection of the Lake.
- Membership/Events: Chair Gail Berner has been working with other Board members to try to come up with ways to encourage membership and cultivate community.
- Communications: Chair Cynthia Vance has been working on enhancing the Association website, including ways to have the website take the place of email alerts, and Board member Chris Beckett has been working on creating a bigger and better semi-annual newsletter.
- Fireworks: Paul added that Board member Rudy Montgelas is the new Chair for the annual fireworks display; he also thanked Dorothy Hamilton for hosting another great display.
The meeting was then adjourned.
Heather Allen, Recording Secretary
Lake Waramaug Association Annual Meeting
June 9, 2013 at the Lake Waramaug Country ClubPaul Frank called the meeting to order and introduced guest Mark Lyon, First Selectman of Washington, and guest speakers Daniel Esty, Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and his wife, Elizabeth Esty, Congresswoman for the Fifth District.
Paul then asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of the many members we lost in the past year: Allen Allured, Henry Brau, James Casey, Merrell Clark, Preston Gilmore, Robert Ladish, Helene Pennington, and David Reynolds.
THE STATE OF THE LAKE, Tom McGowan
Tom gave us a sweeping overview of the 38-year history of the Lake Waramaug Task Force, which was established in 1975, highlighting their many achievements during those years. He noted that the principal objectives of the Task Force have been and continue to be improving water clarity and quality; reducing bluegreen algae; and preventing or containing invasive plants. He also noted the role of the Task Force's talented advisors in reaching those objectives: limnologist Dr. Kortmann and invasive plant specialist Dr. Knocklein.
Reducing Phosphorus: A major achievement in reducing the amount of phosphorus that runs off into the Lake was the installation of the large waste lagoon on the Tanner Farm, which the Task Force was instrumental in helping to create and to fund, with additional monies from the then DEP and the USDA. The Task Force also contributed to the wine waste lagoon at Hopkins Vineyard. And a recent legislative victory that both the Task Force and the Association supported was the passing of a bill to prohibit phosphorus in lawn fertilizers.
Model Buffer Planting: In 2003, the Task Force was instrumental in the design and installation of a model buffer planting at 47 West Shore Road. 300 feet of shoreline were re-graded and a grass swale was installed to direct run-off into a biofilter. The model buffer planting at the site, which consists of native trees, shrubs, and other plants, is designed to protect the Lake by catching and absorbing storm-water run-off and inhibiting soil erosion.
Sucker Brook Erosion Control: The Task Force has identified many major erosion sites along Sucker Brook, the main feeder stream to the Lake, and has been working with two of the Tanner farms to obtain a grant from the USDA to correct the sites on their land; the grant would cover 75% of the cost of the work, and the Task Force would pay the remaining 25%. Erosion results in the loss of hundreds of tons of soil and the depositing of phosphorus-rich sediment into the Lake. The sediment carried into the Lake by Sucker Brook has created a huge delta, which blocks the flow of cold well-oxygenated water into the Lake. Instead, warm phosphorus-laden water planes out over the delta, creating the perfect environment for the growth of bluegreen algae. The Task Force played a role in the dredging of Sucker Brook delta in 1985, at which time many serious erosion sites along the brook were also repaired. But the erosion sites are now worse than ever, as is the delta, which by 1999 had filled back in again. What to do about the delta remains an ongoing challenge, and the work on the erosion sites a continuing priority.
Land Preservation: Preserving undeveloped and forested land around the Lake is another important aspect of maintaining the healthy ecology of the Lake and its environs, and the Task Force has played a role in preserving several key parcels over the years. The Task Force paid for the appraisal of 66 acres of forest contiguous to Mt. Bushnell State Park and encouraged the State to add this land to the Park, which it did. The Task Force also played a role in the donation of several easements around the Lake, including seven acres on Bliss Road given by the Penningtons and the Allureds, and 67 acres donated by Cynthia and Lee Vance on North Shore Road. The Task Force is also developing a closer relationship with the Warren Land Trust to collaborate on land preservation projects.
Invasive Plants: The ongoing invasive plant program that the Task Force launched several years ago has four key components, Tom told us: Education, Monitoring, Rapid Response, and the Inspection Program at the Washington Boat Launch, which was begun in 1999. The inspection program serves the dual purpose of educating boaters and keeping invasive plants out of the Lake; all motor boaters must display stickers as evidence of inspection and are subject to a fine if they have not had their boats inspected. In addition, the Task Force conducts a thorough annual inspection of the Lake for invasive plants and if they are found, either pulls them out by hand or installs plastic blankets over them.
In-Lake Restoration Systems: These systems have played a significant role in the doubling of water clarity in the Lake in the period from 1980 to 2004. The system at the Frost Site on Arrow Point withdraws water from the Lake, aerates it, and returns it; it also draws naturally occurring iron out of the water, which binds with phosphorus in the presence of oxygen. The Layer Aeration systems also aerate the water, and are being used by the Task Force to prolong the cool water period in the spring and thereby the life of the diatoms which bind phosphorus when they die and take it to the bottom of the Lake; this also delays the onset of the bluegreen algae.
Tom noted in closing that maintaining and improving these very effective and inexpensive (compared to solutions such as alum treatment that are employed at other lakes) systems with the help of Dr. Kortmann continues to be one of the Task Force's top initiatives.
Paul then introduced our first guest speaker, Daniel Esty, who became Commissioner of the State DEP in March of 2011, now the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
Daniel Esty, COMISSIONER OF THE DEEP
Dan began by thanking Tom McGowan for his presentation and for all the work that he has done in helping to preserve the Lake. He noted that Lake Waramaug is in much better shape than many other lakes in the State, and said that he knows that all the work we have done here has not been easy, nor has it been cheap, "so that's a big deal." And he said that it will take ongoing vigilance and effort to maintain all that has been done and continue to make progress.
Dan then went on to say that it is "a challenging time to get things done" now in Connecticut because of the State's tight budget. He told us that he realizes that his Department needs to approach problems in new and different ways: to go "beyond the twentieth-century approach" and come up with twenty-first century answers. Innovation will be critical to this process, he said, as will partnerships with both local governments and non-governmental groups such as private conservation organizations. He noted that there is a "changed spirit" of cooperation at the State level that will be essential to making progress, and that his Department will have to become "more integrated in how we work."
Dan summarized three key aspects of the innovation that he is trying to implement at the DEEP. One is the "leaning" and re-engineering of the Department, and the creation of a lighter regulatory burden without sacrificing effectiveness, with permits issued more quickly and cheaply. A second is the effort to provide cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy delivered via twenty-first century infrastructure and a "more robust" grid composed of micro-grids that function on a smaller scale and are less vulnerable to a system-wide failure. And the third is the furthering of the State's "outdoor conservation agenda" having to do with the maintenance of parks and forests and the preservation of land; this is a particular challenge now, he said, with reductions in both funding and staff, and so it will be important to create "leverage" by working in partnership with others.
In closing, Dan told us that the Association is "an extraordinary model" and that all we have done in our almost one-hundred-year history has been a "great achievement." For the Association as for his work at the State level, he said, "a sense of community will be essential going forward."
Elizabeth Esty, CONGRESSWOMAN FOR THE FIFTH DISTICT
Elizabeth opened her remarks by thanking the Association Board members for the tour of the Lake that she and her husband had been given that morning, and for taking the time to educate them on the Association's achievements and ongoing challenges. She said she had been especially impressed by the In-Lake Restoration systems, which use nature to correct environmental problems, and "do more with less money."
One of the committees on which Elizabeth serves is the Science, Space, & Technology Committee, and she said that their work is made more difficult at the moment by what she referred to as an "anti-science element" in Washington [D.C.] that is, for example, questioning current research on climate change. She emphasized the importance of making good decisions based on science at the local, State, and Federal levels, and of supporting basic science, calling it the "basis of innovation and success."
She went on to reiterate, not just the importance, but the difficulty of "making good long-term decisions." This difficulty is due in part to the way the Federal Government sets up its budget. Current operating expenses have "crowded out" long-term investments, for example in infrastructure. Elizabeth also serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, so she is well aware of the "enormous needs" for investment in that sector, and she told us that the Government has to rethink its budget process to allow for that investment. The most expensive solution, however, is not always the best, she noted. Making decisions based on science can help us to come up with solutions that are effective and also low-tech and relatively inexpensive. This effort presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
In closing, Elizabeth stressed that a key aspect of this challenge and opportunity is "how to make it easy to do the right thing." She said that she believes that people will comply with beneficial rules and practices as long as they understand the need for them and compliance is made relatively easy. She cited the Lake's Invasive Plants Inspection Program at the boat launch as one example of this. It provides people with the opportunity to do the right thing and also gives the Lake groups and those who run the program the opportunity by continuing to monitor the program and receive feedback on its effectiveness to make better decisions going forward.
TREASURER'S REPORT, John Santoleri
John reported that as of April 30th (the end of our fiscal year) Association revenues were $31,200, about two-thirds from contributions and one-third from the Fireworks solicitation; this was down about $5,000 from last year. Expenses for the year totaled $34,000, 88% for program costs and the balance for administration. Expenses were up about $5,000 due to the cost of the police patrol, which was re-instituted in 2012. Our assets at the end of the year were $122,312.
ELECTION OF DIRECTORS, Gail Berner, Chair of the Nominating Committee
The 15 Board members of the Association serve staggered three-year terms. Members with terms expiring this year are Heather Allen, Peter Bonachea, John Santoleri, Betty Sutter, and Cynthia Vance, each of whom has agreed to continue to serve. There is a vacancy for a one-year term created by the resignation of Harold Wellings.
The five incumbent Board members whose terms are expiring were nominated for new terms and Alice Hicks was nominated to fill the vacancy. This slate was elected to serve until April 30, 2016 (April 30, 2014 for Alice Hicks) or until successors are elected and shall qualify.
PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS, Paul Frank
Invasive Plants Inspection Program: Paul noted that the boat inspection program is working very well and reminded us that all boats with motors must be inspected and stickered to evidence passing inspection. This includes car-top boats permitted to be launched at the State Park, where there is now a sign notifying boaters of the need for inspection and directing them to Dowler's Garage should the Washington Boat Launch be closed.
Roads and Traffic: Paul reported that the Association will again be hiring private-duty police officers to perform extra patrols on the weekends, as we did last year. The officers enhance safety and enforce the reduced speed limit on the Lake roads, and the patrol has proven to have a beneficial effect.
Regulatory Matters: Paul reminded us that the Lake towns have regulations relating to docks, and that installing new docks or making material changes to existing docks requires a permit. Washington and Warren both limit the size of docks to 360 square feet over the water and floats to 100 square feet. In addition, Warren also regulates the size of so-called inflatable water toys larger than 30 square feet to 120 square feet over the water, with a maximum height of 4 feet.
Paul also reminded us that both Washington and Warren limit the height of fences along the Lake side of the Lake roads, and that the definition of "fences" includes dense plantings that have the visual effect of fences and other visual barriers that unduly obscure the view of the Lake from the road. The height limit in Washington is 2 feet and in Warren it is 3 feet.
FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS AND FLARES, Rod Funston
The fireworks display will take place at 9:30 P.M. on the Fourth of July, with a rain-date of July 5th. Prior to the fireworks we will have the traditional lighting of flares around the Lake, and Rod told us that as in past years, flares will be available for purchase at The Hopkins Inn, County Wine, and 9 Main in New Preston.
REPORT OF THE LAKE WARAMAUG AUTHORITY, Edgar Berner, Chair
Ed gave us information and an update on the proposed Slow-No-Wake zone limiting motorized vessel speed to 6 miles per hour in the furthest north section of the arm of the Lake between the State Park and Arrow Point, an area that is 1750 feet from end to end and about 500 feet wide at its widest point. This relatively narrow area has been a safety concern for some time, because during the summer it is a busy and congested area that brings swimmers, kayaks, canoes, and motor boats into close proximity. Washington's Resident State Trooper, Steven Sordi, has said that he feels that the situation in this part of the Lake is an accident waiting to happen; he has been the strongest proponent of the Slow-No-Wake zone, and has met with the DEEP on several occasions to discuss ways to make the area safer, because the DEEP Boating Division regulates such activities on Connecticut lakes. Paul read us the following email that he had received recently from Trooper Sordi:
"Regarding the area we have proposed as no wake. This area is mostly congested with kayaks, canoes, swimmers and such and not necessarily boats. The issue is not the amount of vessels located in this area causing me to advocate for this no wake area, but the difficulty and danger caused by the high numbers of non-motorized vessels including swimmers. Most of the people found in this area are from the state park, many are not very good swimmers and novice kayakers etc... That being said, having boaters zig zag around us (Police) (even if it's 3, 4, or 5 boats) while we try to save these people, or they try to save themselves is what creates the danger and my main focus. One more thought... Creating this no wake area provides a designated safe zone for the lake swimmers, so they may enjoy the lake and not worry about being accidently struck by a boater."Ed told us that the first step in the process of seeking the creation of the Slow-No-Wake zone was for one of the Lake towns to petition the DEEP for such a regulation. On May 16th, at Warren's Annual Town Meeting, those present voted overwhelmingly in favor of such petition, which has been presented to the DEEP. If the petition is accepted, the DEEP will hold a public hearing on the matter, probably in Warren, at which all interested persons may present their views on the proposed zone.
In response to some questions from members about such issues as how the zone will be marked and enforced, and whether it will be twenty-four hours a day year-round or just for certain hours in the summer, Ed noted that it is the State who will decide the specifics of the zone. He also noted that this proposal was not an initiative of the Association or the Task Force, but of the Lake Waramaug Authority, the three-town agency tasked with enforcing boating regulations and ensuring the safety of all who use the Lake.
In the absence of further questions or comments, Paul Frank adjourned the meeting.
Heather Allen, Recording Secretary
LWA Annual Joint Meeting with the Lake Waramaug Task Force
September 9, 2012 at the Lake Waramaug Country Club
Paul Frank called the meeting to order, and began by introducing the Board members who were present. He then asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of Association members who have passed away in the past year: Elisha Dyer and Peg Duus.
REPORT OF THE LAKE WARAMAUG AUTHORITY, Chair Edgar Berner and Officer Pat Kessler
Ed noted that boat traffic on the Lake had been light this summer, and that people had generally been following the rules. He reminded us that the mission of the Authority is to "provide a safe and healthy environment for you and all others to enjoy the Lake."
Officer Kessler also noted that it had been "a pretty quiet safe season," and added that, while Lake traffic had been much lighter than in previous years, the number of kayaks and canoes (many of which are launched from the State Park) was a little greater than last year. There had been four violations, including a rowboat with an electric motor that had launched at the State Park without an inspection sticker; one water rescue for an overturned canoe whose occupant had no life jacket; and two medical assists, one for dehydration and one for a fishing hook caught in a person's hand. Officer Kessler was asked what we should do if we see someone in distress on the Lake, and he said that if it is an emergency - not, for example, just a boat that has lost power - to call 911.
Paul then brought up the issue of speeding on the Lake roads. He told us that the Board had consulted a traffic engineer who felt that the geometry of the roads was such that nothing structurally could be done to calm traffic. The Board had then decided that enforcement was the best if not the only solution to speeding, and had arranged for a private duty police officer to patrol the Lake roads periodically through the leaf season.
Officer Kessler, who has served several shifts on such duty, reported that the biggest problem he had observed so far was not the cars, but the bicyclists, who "don't want to share the road." Bicyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road, including obeying the speed limit and stopping at stop signs; they also must keep as far to the right of the road as possible, and move into single file when a car needs to pass them. This often does not happen, and Officer Kessler said that he saw many drivers having to accelerate and pull into the other lane in order to pass bicyclists. He also noted that the bicyclists had been "nasty" when he had tried to advise them that they must follow the rules of the road.
As far as the car traffic, the average speed Officer Kessler had recorded was between 28 and 35 miles per hour. And he had issued five tickets in the past week: one on North Shore Road, two on West Shore Road, and three on East Shore Road (Route 45). He noted that none of the violators were locals. He also told us that "just seeing the police is good," and that a lot of people had stopped to ask him what he was doing. Someone at the meeting asked him about installing radar boxes on the Lake roads, and he said that this had been done previously on West Shore Road, but that the town had only a limited number of boxes and that they must be moved around town to various locations where speeding is a problem. Finally, he was asked if people concerned about cars speeding past their houses, especially if they have children who must cross the road, can put cones out in the middle of the road to try to slow traffic. The answer was no, it is not legal to do so, and furthermore, the person who placed the cones would be liable if they played a role in an accident. Small "Children at Play" signs are okay, however.
REPORT ON THE BOAT LAUNCH, Peter Bonachea
Peter reiterated that the motor boat activity on the Lake had been very calm this summer, and that the boat launch had operated smoothly. Seven boats had been turned away when invasive plants were found. And car-top boat operators using the ramp at the State Park had cooperated by having their boats inspected either at the Washington ramp, or at Dowler's garage when the launch was closed.
PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS, Paul Frank
Paul began by telling us that the score in the saga of the domesticated geese who have taken up residence on the shore along West Shore Road is Geese 1, Association 0. As he had told us at our June meeting, an attempt had been made to capture the geese so that they could be relocated to a pond in Warren, but when the geese were seen in the trap both the Washington Animal Control Officer and the State Game Warden had been called in.
Paul then thanked Dorothy Hamilton for once again hosting the July 4th fireworks display on her property; Peter Bonachea and Joe Rowan for their assistance with the display; and Rod Funston for handling the sale of the flares. Paul noted that the cost of the display had been covered by the generous contributions of 75 of our members.
Finally, Paul reminded us of the various committees that Board members have formed. He spoke briefly about the Land Use Committee, whose Chairs monitor development applications and land use regulations, make suggestions for improved regulations, and attend land use meetings and public hearings. Paul noted the importance of keeping track of land use, and trying to take action to address inappropriate development before it's too late. The Co-Chairs of the Land Use Committee are Richard Kleinberg and Heather Allen, and Paul suggested that anyone interested in participating in the work of the committee, or who has any thoughts or concerns about land use around the Lake, contact them. He then asked Cynthia Vance to report on the Communications Committee.
REPORT OF THE COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE, Chair Cynthia Vance
Cynthia told us that a principal concern of the Communications Committee is how the Association communicates with people around the Lake. The Association website is one way in which we are doing this, and Cynthia said her committee would like to "evolve the website to be more of a place for people to go." She said they would like to get feedback and ideas from members as to what kind of information they would like to see on the website, and invited response from the members present. Suggestions were made to include the minutes of the Membership meetings on the website (which we have just begun to do); have a link on the site to Paul's email alerts; and provide more information on best practices for construction around the Lake, as well as specific regulations. Cynthia then said that anyone who would like to contact her about the website or the work of the Communications Committee could reach her either through the "info" link on the website, or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE WARREN LAND TRUST, Chairman Ted Morse
Ted had been invited to speak with us about the work of the Warren Land Trust, which has special importance for the Lake in that 80% of the watershed falls within Warren.
Ted began by telling us that in the last three or four years the Warren Land Trust (which was founded in 1989) has "really taken off." They have a very active Board, and have done "exceedingly well," Ted said. One litmus test of their success, he noted, is the amount of money they have been able to raise. From an annual fund averaging twelve to thirteen thousand dollars, the average for the past three years has been twenty-nine to thirty thousand dollars.
The Warren Land Trust currently holds 15 conservation easements, Ted told us, and owns another 8 parcels. In the last four years, the number of acres protected by the land trust has risen from 340 to 680. Two recent donations are on Melius Road, one of 38 acres and one of 75 acres. And in a new development for the organization, an easement on Town Hill Road was recently adjusted to allow them to build a farm house there so that the land can be run as an organic farm.
The "big news," however, is that two years ago the Warren Land Trust voted to apply for accreditation from the National Land Trust Alliance. It has been "one heck of a lot of work," Ted said, 90% of which is drudgery such as reviewing files and writing reports. They have had to review every aspect of the land trust, and to take a hard look at their record-keeping, as well as their land management and stewardship practices. The Accreditation Report that is required is very lengthy, and the process of putting it together is also quite costly. They expect to submit their application in mid-2013, and hope to be accredited in 2014.
Ted also told us that the land trust has been meeting with the Lake Waramaug Task Force to identify mutual concerns and ways in which the two groups could work together to better achieve common goals stabilizing the erosion sites along Sucker Brook, for example. To this end, one Board member of each organization will periodically attend a Board meeting of the other. Ken Hecken of the Task Force and Tim Angevine of the Warren Land Trust will be the first Board members to participate in this exchange.
Finally, Ted said that in an effort to bridge the "us and them" feeling that sometimes exists in Warren between the Land Trust and the rest of the town, the Land Trust is becoming more involved with Town groups and activities, including Park & Rec, the historical society, the library, and the clean-up of town roads. The Warren Land Trust will hold its annual meeting on November 17th, and Ted invited everyone to attend.
THE LAKE WARAMUAG TASK FORCE, Chair Linda Frank Linda told us that "the success of the Task Force is from people like you." New residents, she said, "have no idea how far we've come over the years." The new Task Force DVD, "Saving Lake Waramaug," gives people a good overview of all that the Task Force has achieved since its inception in 1975, and Linda once again acknowledged Task Force Board member and webmaster Jim Hicks, who produced and directed the DVD. She then turned the floor over to Jim, who told us that "Saving Lake Waramaug" should be up on the Task Force website before long, and that it would also appear in the near future on public access television.
THE STATE OF THE LAKE, Tom McGowan, Task Force Executive Director
Tom began by telling us how pleased the Task Force is to be developing a close relationship with the Warren Land Trust, and pointed out that the land they protect is largely in the Lake Waramaug watershed. He also noted that the recent donation to the land trust of 75 acres on Melius Road is at the headwaters of Sucker Brook, the main feeder stream to the Lake, and so has added importance to the Lake. He said he hopes that the collaboration between the Task Force and the Warren Land Trust will heighten exposure for both organizations, strengthen their work, and result in the preservation of more land.
Water Clarity: Water clarity has been "terrific" this year, Tom said. Nutrient levels at the surface of the water are low, and algae growth is down. The Task Force is continuing to find ways to utilize the natural iron in the water, which when exposed to oxygen, binds phosphorus. This fall they will use the in-lake aeration systems to "turn" the Lake in late September; this will oxygenate the water, and result in less phosphorus in the Lake next spring. They will also be using these systems to prolong the life of the diatoms (which take phosphorus to the lake bottom with them when they die) during the coming spring, as they did last year, and thereby delay the onset of the bluegreen algae.
Invasive Plants: Only six sites of curlyleaf pondweed were found this year, all of which were taken care of. The Task Force is now keeping a special lookout for fanwort as well, a very aggressive invasive plant that has been plaguing a number of water bodies in the State. Dr. Knocklein, who conducts a thorough inspection of the whole shoreline in the spring, will do another inspection this fall.
Land Use: The Task Force monitors land use applications around the Lake, with an eye both to construction and to landscape plans - the planting of shoreline buffers, for example. Tom said that it would be nice if property owners thought about such considerations ahead of time, and came to the Task Force first for advice and information, before going ahead with plans that might be inappropriate. Most people, he believes, want to do what will benefit the Lake.
Sucker Brook: A number of trees had fallen into the brook along the stretch from where it passes under to Route 45 to its outlet, and the Task Force recently paid for trees including some large ones to be removed at twelve sites. They will then assess the banks to see what else might need to be done to stabilize them. The Task Force would like to establish relationships with property owners all up and down Sucker Brook so that they can have access to the brook for inspections, and then encourage the owners to work cooperatively with the Task Force to do what needs to be done to stabilize the banks and reduce erosion and run-off.
Tom also mentioned that owners of property along feeder streams to the Lake where there is a build-up of sediment might want to get together to hire a service to remove it. This might make a costly procedure affordable, and the Task Force would be willing to help organize such a cooperative venture.
Paul Frank thanked the Country Club for the use of this room for our meeting, and was just about to adjourn the meeting when longtime Association member and former Board member Maria Allen rose to her feet to address the group, praising Paul for all he has done during his presidency, and calling him "the engine that drives it all." This was greeted with well-earned applause. The meeting was then adjourned.
Heather Allen, Recording Secretary
Lake Waramaug Association Annual Meeting
June 10, 2012 at the Lake Waramaug Country ClubPaul Frank called the meeting to order, noting that this was the Association's 96th Annual Meeting, and that the Association will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016. Paul opened with a memorial to Peter Mullen, who died this past year. The Association has "lost a very important person," Paul said. Peter was a member of the Board of Directors for many decades, and was President of the Association from 1980 through 1994. Paul noted that "Peter led or was involved in a meaningful way with every significant event affecting the lake in recent memory. This lake would be a far different place if Peter had not been here." Paul then asked Tom McGowan, Executive Director of the Lake Waramaug Task Force, who worked closely with Peter over many years, to speak about Peter's role in the protection and preservation of Lake Waramaug.
IN MEMORIAM: Peter Mullen by Tom McGowan
Peter was a "special person to the Lake," Tom said. As a resident, he took responsibility for contributing to the health and preservation of the Lake, and raised a family committed to the same work. As Paul had pointed out, Peter was involved with every major event affecting the Lake for decades, and Tom told us that Peter always had the best advice to offer for the solution of complex problems.
One of the efforts in which Peter was very much involved was the solution to the problem of the old Casino property at 47 West Shore Road, once the site of a controversial roadhouse and marina, which had gone downhill over the years. Peter and George Bates spearheaded the creation of Ice House Properties, a group of concerned Lake residents who purchased the property. They later resold it with deed restrictions and easements in place that would preclude another marina, which could have been allowed as a pre-existing non-conforming use. The deed also allowed the Lake Waramaug Task Force to rework and improve the 600-foot shoreline, including the installation of buffer plantings, creating what Tom called a "model for how a shoreline should be configured and planted."
Another major accomplishment that Peter was instrumental in achieving was the purchase of the old mill property at the foot of the Lake, which included the water rights to the adjoining dam that controls the amount of water flowing out of the Lake into the East Aspetuck River. Peter then stripped off the dam rights and donated them to the town of Washington before reselling the property, so that the public would now regulate the water, not a private individual.
One of the first Lake issues in which Peter was involved arose when a developer purchased Arrow Point in the early 1970s. The original plan called for 50 lots, which of course would have required 50 septic systems. There was a tremendous concern about all those septic systems, and Peter went to Hartford to testify before the newly formed State Department of Environmental Protection. Due to his efforts, the DEP levied a first-of-its-kind order to the developer to cut the number of proposed homes in half, and to install the best possible septic systems. The revised subdivision plan designated one and a quarter acres at the tip of the point as open space, an area that was subsequently purchased by the Task Force for the creation of the first pumping station to clean and aerate water from the lake, now the Frost site. Tom announced that the land itself is going to be named for Peter, as a memorial to his long and outstanding service to the Lake.
TREASURER'S REPORT, Paul Frank for John Santoleri
Paul reported that as of the fiscal year ending April 30, 2012, the Association had total revenues of $37,500 and expenditures of $27,500, leaving a balance of just under $10,000. Contributions were up slightly in 2012, but we sold fewer books, so overall our income was somewhat less. Expenses were in line with 2011, and we contributed $5,000 to the Task Force, as we did in 2011. We currently have about $123,000 in total assets, and no liabilities.
REPORT OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE, Betty Sutter
The Association has fifteen Board members, who serve staggered three-year terms. Board members with terms expiring at this time are Paul Frank, Susan Payne, Rod Funston, Joe Rowan, and Sally Paynter. Rod, Sally, and Joe are not standing for re-election, although they will remain active in the work of the Association. There is also a vacancy created by the death of Peter Mullen, who had two years left on his term.
Paul Frank and Susan Payne were nominated for re-election; Christine Adams Beckett, Rudy Montgelas, and Scott Weaver were nominated to serve three-year terms; and Elaine Mullen Peer was nominated to serve the balance remaining in her father's term. All of the members present voted in favor of electing this slate to serve until April 30, 2015 (April 30, 2014 for Elaine Peer), or until their successors are elected and shall qualify.
PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS, Paul Frank
Paul began by telling us that there had been a notice in the newspaper recently that the State was about to complete the establishment of a 56-boat launch and marina at the old Beverly's site on Bantam Lake, which had been purchased by the State for such purpose. He noted that Lake Waramaug could have suffered a similar fate, distorting the balanced recreational use of the lake, were it not for the efforts of the towns, the Association, the Task Force, and many interested citizens in reaching an agreement with the State in 2004 providing that the sole public motorboat access would be through the Washington Boat Ramp, and permitting a much more limited number of boats than had been proposed by the State for our Lake.
Letter from the DOT: Paul then referred to the letter that the DOT had sent to property owners around the Lake, advising them that the Lake road - State Route 478 - is "unbounded," and that the State has an easement over these properties for "highway purposes." Consequently, proposed improvements in the highway easement require prior approval from the DOT. Paul said he wasn't sure what had precipitated this letter - possibly the construction of walls within the easement area. It is also unclear what exactly constitutes the easement area, and if it is the same for all properties. Paul had contacted the DOT for further information about this, but had not yet received a call back.
Invasive Weeds Boat Inspection Program: Paul reminded us that all boats with motors must be inspected, and stickered to evidence having passed the inspection, before entering the Lake. The State has now put up a sign at the State Park to advise motor boaters of this regulation, and to direct them to Dowler's Garage in New Preston for inspection should the launch at the Washington Beach be closed. Paul noted that Dowler's has already performed 10 such inspections this season. A handout has also been prepared to educate boaters at the State Park about the reasons for and importance of the inspection, which Board member Howard Wellings has volunteered to distribute at the cartop-boat launch at the park.
Roads and Traffic: Last fall, Association member Craig Bibb, concerned about the problem of speeding on the Lake roads, had solicited a proposal from a traffic engineer for a traffic volume/speed study, at a cost of about $8,000. Association Board members met with this engineer in October. The engineer, having driven around the Lake roads for the first time just prior to the meeting, said that the "geometry" of the roads essentially made them "self-regulating," but that he would propose possible short- and long-term improvements. No such proposal was received. After further discussion this spring, the consensus among Board members was that the best, if not only, solution to the problem of speeding is for the Association to hire a police officer for special overtime patrols, the cost of each being about $300 for a minimum time of four hours. This patrol would be a "wise move," Paul said, and would serve as part of an educational as well as an enforcement process. The officer can move around or stay in one spot, and can issue warnings and/or tickets to people who are speeding.
Special Problems in the State Park Arm of the Lake: There is a growing number of canoes and kayaks on the Lake, and they are especially concentrated in this arm of the Lake, along with motor boats, many of them towing either skiers or children on large rafts. The density of boats of various types, combined with the speed of the motor boats and the wakes they create that can be hazardous to canoes and kayaks, has created a significant safety concern. Washington Resident State Trooper Stephen Sordi has called this situation "an accident waiting to happen." Trooper Sordi and the Lake Waramaug Authority are in discussion with the Boating Division of the State DEEP to see what might be done to increase safety in this area of the Lake and avoid potential accidents.
Regulations on Docks and Inflatable Floats: The towns of Washington and Warren both have regulations setting the maximum size of docks to 360 square feet over the water, and of floats to 100 square feet over the water. Warren has also amended its regulations to include so-called inflatable water toys larger than 30 square feet, which cannot exceed 120 square feet over the water or 4 feet in height. Paul noted that he feels that it would have been better to have kept inflatable floats within the 100-square-foot limit for other types of floats.
Domestic Geese on West Shore Road: Paul reported that the domestic geese that have taken up residence on the shore have become aggressive to passers by, and might well cause a traffic accident if allowed to remain. The geese were lured into a trapping device so that they could be relocated to a pond on a large tract of land in Warren, but unfortunately the sides of the trap were let down, causing distress to the geese and a number of calls about cruelty to animals. The trap is now gone, and Paul has contacted the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy in Litchfield for their advice on capturing and relocating the geese.
FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS AND FLARES, Rod Funston
The annual Fourth of July fireworks display will take place this year on Wednesday, July 4, with a rain date of the following day. The fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m., and as in past years, the Lake will be rimmed with flares beforehand. Rod demonstrated how to use the flares, which can be purchased at The Hopkins Inn, County Wines, and 9 Main in New Preston.
THE LAKE WARAMAUG TASK FORCE, Linda Frank, Chair
Linda showed us one of the caps that the Task Force is selling (available at The Hopkins Vineyard and 9 Main) and also spoke about a DVD called "Saving Lake Waramaug" that has been produced by Task Force Board member Jim Hicks. The DVD covers the history of the Lake from the time of the Native peoples here up to the present, as well as the work of the Task Force in restoring and preserving the health and ecology of the Lake. Linda noted that the DVD is especially helpful in understanding the science behind preservation efforts. The DVD will be available at local libraries.
THE STATE OF THE LAKE, Tom McGowan
"I have good news," Tom told us. "Things have turned around more than expected since the damaging weather events of last year, and the water clarity in the Lake is currently "terrific."
Invasive Species: The Task Force received a "terrific report" from the annual close inspection of the whole shoreline for invasive weeds, enhanced this year by the clarity of the water. There were only six locations of curlyleaf pondweed, with very few plants in each location. The procedures in place for monitoring and removing invasive weeds have been working well, Tom said, and have been worth the expense. Two college interns will continue to take water-clarity readings and monitor the Lake for invasive weeds throughout the summer.
Tom noted that there has been a proliferation of zebra mussels in Connecticut, and that they have been migrating down the Housatonic River. Fortunately, however, the Lake is not susceptible to the mussels because of its PH levels.
Phosphorus: The phosphorus entering the Lake comes from many sources, but the biggest is the Tanner dairy farm. A mature Holstein milking cow generates 10,000 pounds of waste a year, and because dairy farming is now more concentrated, so is the waste. Although the waste lagoon has been very helpful, it is not enough; it was overwhelmed during the intense winter of 2010-2011, and overflowed into Sucker Brook, sending a great deal of phosphorus into the Lake.
Terry Tanner lost a good number of cows to disease and accidents last year, and had been thinking about not replacing them, in order to reduce the size of his herd. The Task Force encouraged such reduction by offering Terry a modest addition to the current sale price in exchange for an agreement that the milking herd, which for years had been at 150 cows, would not exceed 100. He sold 50 head, and currently has 80 milkers. The result is that there has been a huge reduction in the volume of animal waste at the Tanner Farm, which is a major benefit to the water quality in Sucker Brook and the Lake. Because he now has fewer cows, he plans to convert some of his cornfields to hay. Cornfields are highly erosive, so having more acreage in hay will reduce run-off from the farm as well.
In another attempt to reduce phosphorus in the Lake, this year the Task Force, at the suggestion of Dr. Kortmann, installed and in March turned on new diffuser valves along the compressor line to the in-lake aeration systems. This helped maintain a cooler water temperature in the Lake during the spring. This cooler water prolongs the life of the single-celled algae called diatoms that live under the ice in the winter, and stay alive as long as the water stays cool. When the diatoms die, they take phosphorus with them to the lake bottom, and so keeping them alive longer will lengthen the clear-water period until later in the spring; they were kept alive until early June this year. This also delays the onset of the blue-green algae, which don't get started until the Lake warms up after the diatoms die off.
New Legislation: Tom also told us about a bill (sponsored by the Task Force and supported by the Association) that was recently passed in Connecticut that will ban phosphorus almost completely in fertilizers for established lawns; a small percentage (.67) will be allowed, since manufacturers of compost cannot extract this naturally-occurring amount of phosphorus from their products. Established lawns are a big part of the landscape, especially in urban and suburban areas, so this bill will be a big help in reducing the phosphorus in the State's lakes and other watercourses.
Sucker Brook Delta: The build-up of the Sucker Brook delta continues to be one of the Lake's most pressing problems. There are 27 major erosion sites along Sucker Brook, which currently pours a great deal of sediment and phosphorus into the Lake. Part of this erosion is natural, because Sucker Brook is a high-gradient stream with erosive soil. But human activities along the brook, as well as natural events like downed trees, have greatly increased the amount of erosion, as well as the amount of phosphorus in the sediment. The Task Force is thinking about various possible solutions to this problem, including channelization of the delta and the creation of a large sediment basin upstream on land that the Task Force would purchase; it would also maintain the basin. Any solution will be very expensive, and the Task Force wants to be sure that it is going to work before making the investment.
Land Preservation in the Lake Waramaug Watershed: The Lake has a fourteen-square-mile watershed, mostly in Warren. Tom displayed a large map that shows the preserved land in the watershed, including Above All State Park in Warren and Mount Bushnell State Park in Washington; much of the Washington side of the Pinnacle has also been protected. The Task Force is thinking about creating a closer collaboration with the Warren Land Trust and other local preservation organizations, with the hope that if these organizations act together, more can be achieved than if they all act separately. One specific goal that Tom mentioned is to make preservation in the East and West Aspetuck River watersheds a priority.
A question was asked about the proliferation of shoreline weeds, and Tom told us that rooted vegetation will prosper with greater water clarity. Some people would like to remove the weeds from around their docks and swimming areas, and Tom told us that, if properly done, clearing out weeds along the shoreline is not harmful to the Lake.
In the absence of further questions or comments, Paul Frank adjourned the meeting, announcing that our next meeting will take place on Sunday, September 9, at 2:00 p.m.
- Heather Allen, Recording Secretary
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