Let me preface this by saying I am a resident of Lost Lake and I have been quite lax in attending Groton’s town meetings in the recent past. Moving forward, though, that will not be the case as Monday night’s meeting was quite the eye opener.
Most of the evening centered on debates concerning articles 5, 6, and 7 all of which dealt with the proposed creation of a Lost Lake sewer system and the funding for the installation of the sewer system itself. A presentation was given outlining proposed costs as well as costs already spent on the project. This is where I was really kicking myself for not attending previous meetings. How is it possible that the town voted to spend $319,000.00 for the CWMP and to perform an income survey of the Lost Lake residents? $319,000.00. That is not a typo.
Did this even get put out to bid or did we just sign on the dotted line?
It also became blatantly obvious that the firm of Woodard & Curran was not up to the task for this project. Yes they performed all the tests required by the state, but being experts in the field, they should have suggested and performed additional tests that actually made sense for this particular project. We are paying for their expertise and input, not to just get a by the book, cookie cutter approach and solution. How is it possible that no upstream testing was done for Martin’s Pond Brook? This completely astounds me. Anyone who has lived on the lake as long as I have knew thirty years ago, just by looking at the cove that the brook spills into, that there was something going on upstream. This cove was always by far the most weed choked by native species, and once the invasive weed species moved in you could literally walk across the milfoil, while the rest of the lake showed hardly any growth at all. Add to this the fact that the more current test results were deemed misleading yet no follow up tests to justify the results were suggested by the engineering firm, well, their motives appear questionable at best. The icing on the cake, however, was when Robert Rafferty of Woodard & Curran stated quite vehemently that $12.9M was the total cost for the project, end of story, yet this project has not even gone out to bid yet.
Who knows what kind of obstacles could have come up during construction driving costs through the roof and turning this into Groton’s own Big Dig with 100% of the added cost thrown on the backs of Lost Lake and Knopps Pond homeowners. Although the proposal got voted down, and the funding portion postponed indefinitely, if, as a community, we decide to revisit this project in the future we need to find a firm that provides honest effort and honest answers. Providing one sided answers to insure a project moves forward in order to secure future monies is simply not acceptable.
It was nice to see that there was some compassion and a sense of community for us lake people from many of the residents from other parts of town and from at least one of the selectmen; Mr. Petropoulas. Jack will get my vote forever going forward just for being the sole voice of reason out of all of our elected officials.
Is there a water quality issue in our lakes? The answer goes unproven without up to date comprehensive testing. Is there a weed problem? Absolutely. What’s curious though is that the native weeds were never an issue even during the ‘70s when the water tests showed high concentrations of phosphorous and/or nitrogen. The native weeds were not spreading or growing at an exaggerated rate; in fact they still don’t seem to be. It is the invasive species, especially the milfoil and cabomba that have choked the lake out. Eradicating the invasive weeds is a major part of where the effort and money needs to be spent to save the lake. Up to this point the application of herbicides is the only thing that has helped with this problem and this needs to be done on as consistent a basis as necessary. The winter drawdown does not work at all. In fact, due to lax dam management, it usually backfires, especially during a spring season where there is too little rain or no snowmelt to help fill the lake quickly. The boards in the dam are installed far too late in the spring, giving the sun plenty of time to beat down on the weeds in very low water conditions giving them a huge head start on their growing season. I applaud and commend the Groton Lakes Association for the thousands of man hours spent operating the weed harvester and transporting the weeds away from the lake. If it were not for their consistent efforts the lake would be a meadow by now. As a point of interest the purchase, maintenance, and operation of the weed harvester is not funded by the town at all, but by private citizens.
Lost Lake and Knopps Pond used to be the gem of the entire state, not just the town of Groton. People traveled from Boston and its suburbs to enjoy our once gorgeous little body of water. Our town can and should bring the lake back to its former glory with the proper use of herbicides, the elimination of storm water runoff from Martin’s Pond Brook and by sinking some money into improving Sargisson Beach and paving the roads around Lost Lake and Knopps Pond.
We talk a good game about community and equal treatment of all of Groton citizens, but the roads around Lost Lake have not been repaired properly or paved in over twenty years, while the rest of the town seems to get paved every few years. You practically need four wheel drive to make it up and down Boathouse Road even though theoretically it is a paved road. The roads on the lake get cold patch once in a blue moon, but within a month the patches are gone and the ruts and potholes are back. I have been trying for decades to get a 60 foot length of the road I live on finished with no response whatsoever from the town, yet the road leading to the town dump is repaved and kept in pristine condition year after year. Why I am out there every spring and fall with a wheel barrow and shovel filling the craters in front of my house? Perhaps I should bill the town for my services. Add to this the fact that the lake residents pay more taxes than the rest of the town based on the ridiculous tax assessment hike done a few years ago and this just adds to our pain and frustration. Our taxes increased dramatically and we were given the excuse that it was because we live in a ‘desirable’ location, yet the town does absolutely nothing to help make the lake desirable to live on. Where is the sense of community here? Heck, for the amount of cash we spent on the CWMP and income survey we could have completely revamped Sargisson Beach and hired a full time life guard with plenty of money to spare to pave the roads.
So let’s level the playing field and dole town services out more equitably from now on. Instead of trying to force an unproven $13M project upon us with scare tactics based on bad science, how about taking care of the realistic needs that Lost Lake and Knopps Pond residents have been begging for year after year ad nauseum; a weed free lake with a viable town beach and roads that don’t rattle the fillings out of our teeth every day on our rides to and from our homes. Deal?
I hope to see you all at the next town meeting on October 29th. I will be there trying to help stop the construction of an oversized overpriced 19,000 square foot $8M fire station on one of the most pristine and picturesque stretches of land in our town.
Proud Resident of Lost Lake