2017 Minutes of the
Richmond Pond Association


RICHMOND POND ASSOCIATION

                                                                             DRAFT MINUTES
                                                    Richmond Pond Association
                                                         Tuesday, May 23, 2017


RPA Business:

Minutes – The minutes of 4/25/17 were approved.

Treasurer’s report – Carl reported a total of $45,053 in all accounts, including $12,752 in the dam maintenance account.  FY donations to date are $9,100 compared to last year’s number of $9,900.  All current years (2016) dues have been received of $1,860.  Total income for this fiscal year is $10,833 with total expenditures of $2,049, plus $2,000 transferred to the dam maintenance account.  Major expenses are fund raising $1,185 and water monitoring $604.  We were appreciative of the donation from BNRC in recognition for Ken’s & Lenox Land Trust’s support of their Parsons Marsh handicapped accessible boardwalks project.

Reports on Priority Projects:

Vendors for Nordeen Marsh water level study - Linda Kay reported that the meeting notes from the RPA’s 4/3/12 meeting with Natural Heritage & other state agencies showed that Natural Heritage had asked for community input & 3 years of Nordeen Marsh water levels measurement data.  Previous attempts at data collection had failed (measuring sticks disappeared), so a replacement plan is being explored.  There have been preliminary discussions with Housatonic Valley Association as a potential vendor.  Jim McGrath may have more information on measurement options.  We now have the updated bathymetry depth chart data that Natural Heritage required.  What we don’t have is 3 years of data on the water levels for the marsh and pond, preferably measured every 2 weeks.  Natural Heritage has stated that they will not accept data using volunteers, so a contractor needs to be hired.  One of Natural Heritage’s main concerns is the impact of a lake drawdown on marsh water levels & its resident plants & critters.

Ken reminded the RPA board that if hydro-raking is employed, it is not dependent upon a drawdown.  However, if dredging were to be employed, a deep drawdown would be required.  Closing out the topic, Ken & Mark will circle back to Natural Heritage for final clarification. 

(Note – The following related information was received the next day from Shep Evans.  No decision has been made about beaver deceiver(s) at the outflow of Nordeen Marsh.  The Conservation Commission is waiting for a stakeholder group to form up for the purpose of installing and monitoring a stage gauge to track the water level in Nordeen Swamp and to establish nominally normal year-round water levels. An eventual flow management device would be maintained/managed by such a group or its nominee and would be informed by readings from the stage gauge. He envisions such a stakeholder group to include and/or draw upon the expertise of the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA, Stockbridge Office), Mass Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW, Dalton Office), and the Richmond Pond Association. Shep has discussed this concept with Alison Dixon at HVA and she may have started forming a stakeholder group; she & Linda Kay are in touch. Once the group holds a site visit (which Alison and Shep should probably attend) and decides where the gauge should be placed, Shep can get it installed by the highway department.)  Ken’s note - If the HVA is to be the contracted vendor for monitoring & record-keeping, a contract cost & responsibilities will need to be defined & the procedure approved in advance by Natural Heritage.

Decision on lead entity for watershed management plan development - Susan led the discussion amongst the parties about the Geosyntec web tool, but there was no report back from the Conservation Commission on their feedback, though Mark reported that Shep Evans had studied it.  Jim said that the Geosyntec tool is complex & not for novices.  He also said that between the land use GSI and Berkshire Regional Planning maps, they provide the basis for the watershed plan.  Linda reminded the board that grant eligibility depends upon having used the Geosyntec tool to develop a water management plan.  Pittsfield has applied for a $45K planning grant to hire Geosyntec to implement it for the Onota Lake watershed, so Pittsfield will pilot its implementation, & Richmond & the RPA will learn from that effort.  Ken Kelly will ask LAPA-West to put this topic on their agenda.

Results of research on restricting jet-ski/personal watercraft (a component of boating & swimmer safety plan) – John reported that Lakeside has a new policy that prohibits guests of the property (renters) from bringing or using jet skis, and doesn’t allow them for their camp program.  Jim Stockbridge Bowl is the only MA great pond (pond over 200 acres) that prohibits jet skis, & that rule was made a long time ago & no one else has succeeded in doing so since.  Sue pointed out that Richmond Pond is complicated by the fact that it’s in two towns and Pittsfield probably can’t make a rule for only one body of water. Note: 45 mph is the state speed limit for jet skis.  Ken will explore editing the posted maps to show the swimming areas & the 150’ swimmers’ shoreline area where motorboat activity is restricted. 

Facebook page enhancement – Carl has been more active with Facebook posts & “boosts” this past month.  And there is a lot to learn about this tool.  A picture of Solitude conducting the lake survey reached 3.4k people, & the Solitude boat picture produced positive comments.  Then a copy of the orange “pond closed” flyer reached 5.4k.  This “boost” did create some conversation, good and bad. Jim added that the Facebook page has 191 friends.  Jim & Susan suggested that a posting be made once a week, but no more “boosting” as it costs money & is too widespread, rather than targeting town residents. Posts could focus on boating & swimming safety, boat launch ramp enhancements, town beach opening, & trout stockings.  John was thanked for getting the page up & running.

Planning RPA all-town picnic at Camp Russell on Tuesday, July 25 – The purpose for the event is to raise awareness about RPA & the amenities & beauty of the pond - a celebratory, family event with a picnic & short comments by RPA (it’s our “annual meeting”).

Planning committee leads: Susan, Peter & Linda. The committee will meet initially at Camp Russell on Tuesday, June 13 at 2:00 pm.  Linda will recruit additional shores residents, & all RPA board members & alternates are invited to the planning meetings.

  • Event timing will be: Tuesday, July 25, 5:00 to 8:00 pm.  Setup will be at 4:00 pm.
  • Food & beverages: served in mess hall or tent depending on weather. Menu to be determined.
  • Activities may include: games for children & adults, a STEM pond study activity, bouncy house, pontoon boat rides (with tour script), swimming with lifeguard, water volleyball, use of boats (with life preservers); short presentation by RPA with handouts …
  • Engagement of Town Recreation Committee – Mark will attend their meeting & suggest engagement.  Carl will also reach out to Jeff Konowitch, committee chair.
  • Budget: Lakeside is donating hamburgers; Camp Russell is donating space; RPA will pay for other expenses.  Budget needs to be developed.
  • Marketing plan: Was not discussed. Marketing plan needs to be developed.


Bench(es) for boat launch area – Ken shared the results of his research, identifying several alternative sturdy outdoor benches, with costs.  Following discussion, a motion was made & approved to fund & order one or two 6-foot benches, total cost not to exceed $1,800 including shipping, to be shipped to Town Hall.  Mark reaffirmed that the town would absorb the costs of installing the benches, involving creating a concrete pad into which they would be anchored, but perhaps to be removed during the winter, located between the guard rail & shoreline at locations to be jointly determined by the highway department & the RPA.  Linda suggested that the benches have a plaque to honor those who were lifetime friends of the RPA, including Jim Mooney & Lois Kelly; this motion was also approved.  Ken will meet with Mark to select bench type & vendor.

Additional action items from review of Pond Management Plan – Cathy reported that the 4 executive officers met on 5/7/17 to review the eleven recommendations of the Lake Management Plan to determine which ones were already being implemented, & which ones might be targeted as additional priority projects for this calendar year.  Those already being implemented, well in progress, or already identified as a targeted project this year: (1) annual reporting; (3) zebra mussel spread prevention; (4) sharing management responsibilities; (6) water quality monitoring (7) fishery; (8) recreation; (9) public access; (10) dam; (11) funding.

The following appear to need more attention: (2) nuisance aquatic species management – initiate the 3-year monitoring of Nordeen Marsh & engage Richmond Shores residents; (5) education & outreach – much is happening, including new Facebook page & new format for annual meeting/picnic, but engaging the schools should be explored.  Peter will provide information to Cathy regarding Camp Russell’s STEM curriculum work with Richmond public schools to see how RPA might engage.

Concern about goose strobe lights – Ken cited last year’s history of neighbor concerns about Camp Russell’s goose strobe light, & plans to reposition & baffle it this year.  Ken raised similar concerns about South Pond Farm’s annoying 2 goose green strobe lights, which are currently anchored off their beach & active.  Information from the Night Sky Association was also shared.  Cathy, representing South Pond Farm, informed the board that SPF & Ken had already been in touch & are working toward a solution asap.  After a discussion, the RPA took no position on the issue, & left it to Ken &/or others to pursue as they wish, on an individual basis. 

Announcements:

Weed treatment – Results of May 9 weed assessment & May 22 weed treatment/pond closing – Carl reported that Solitude did the pre-treatment survey and all went well.  To no one’s surprise, the curly leaf pondweed is in all the same areas as last year, basically around the whole pond up to depths of 12’ or so.  Milfoil was observed right before the bridge, also as expected, and although they didn’t go under the bridge it is presumed to be growing on the other side per usual as well.  That all being said, treatment will be the same as last year, approximately 140 acres or so.  Weed treatment was scheduled for Monday, May 22.  Carl received orange pond closing fliers & posted them around the pond on Thursday, May 18th.  Solitude will return in July for a post-treatment assessment.

Boat launch area improvements – Mark reported that this project was behind schedule & that he’s awaiting an update that he will share as soon as he knows more.

Annual town meeting results – Mark reported that the Richmond Pond related item was approved - $15,000 for boat ramp monitor funds.  The board thanked him & Susan, who spoke on behalf of its approval.

Shoreline fishing update – Ken reported that the 3 signs are being fabricated & will soon be placed, though Mark clarified that if stolen, they will not be replaced.  The trail has been trimmed, with Ted Potter’s assistance.  Mark reported that there has been vandalism in and around the town beach.

Formation of implementation committee for Open Space & Recreation Plan – Mark reported that he brought this topic up to the Board of Selectmen & it will be discussed at their June 14, 6:00 pm meeting.  Susan recommended that we find ways to educate the Town about open land benefits.  Richmond Land Trust, the Town Recreation Committee & RPA or representatives of each might play roles with OSRP implementation.

Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary update – Ken shared that the Sanctuary director has been advised of concerns about size of the beaver dam, & that strategies to reduce the potential for a “blow-out” are being researched.  Mark reported that Shep was awaiting reach-out from Mass Audubon about this.

Richmond Conservation Commission perspectives - Beaver deceivers at Nordeen Marsh & Tracy Brook WS were briefly discussed.

Items of interest to all, from each camp, community association or town official:

  • Mark reported that the Town will be relocating the emergency siren used for major weather emergencies to the boat launch area.
  • Signs to discourage boats in Tracy Brook WS ponds were suggested (so as not to disturb nesting herons).
  • Peter noted that Frank Ostrander, property manager of Camp Russell & the Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, was retiring at the end of May after 27 years of service – a round of applause ensued.
  • John Mead reported that Lakeside Christian Camp is scheduling a dam inspection, to cost about $3,000, as well as related work on mature trees by the dam.  It was mentioned that RPA can assist with a portion of these costs as needed.


Next meeting – June 27, 2017

Attendees:

Directors Present:  Ken Kelly, president (independent cottages); Susan Benner, vice president, (Whitewood); Carl Foote, treasurer (Branch Farm); Cathy Deely, secretary (South Pond); Peter Fish (Camp Russell); Jim McGrath (City of Pittsfield); John Mead (Lakeside Christian Camp); Mark Pruhenski (Richmond Town Administrator)
Alternates Present:   Louise Brogan (Branch Farm); Linda Kay (Richmond Shores); Kitty Levitan (Whitewood); Frank Ostrander (Camp Russell); Adam Weinberg (Richmond Conservation Commission);

Directors Absent:  Nick Martinelli (Richmond Conservation Commission); Matt Melillo (Richmond Shores)
Alternates Absent:  Kais Abderrahim (Camp Russell); Jessica Baumgarten (South Pond Farm); Louise Brogan (Branch Farm); Christopher Jacoby (Camp Russell); Jesse Kellam (Lakeside Christian Camp); Barry Kellogg (Richmond Shores); Al Nardacci (independent cottages); Jack O’Brien (Branch Farm); John O’Brien (Branch Farm)); Karl Volkman (Richmond Shores); Herb Zweig (Richmond Shores)

Guests: Neil Pilson (Richmond Selectman)

 


      ​                                                                       MINUTES
                                               Richmond Pond Association
                                                   Tuesday, April 25, 2017


RPA Business:

Minutes – The minutes of 10/25/16 were approved.  Two items were added to today’s agenda: formation of picnic planning group; year-end weed control report from Solitude

Reminder about 2017 meeting schedule - 4/25, 5/23, 6/27, 7/25 (annual meeting with picnic format @ Camp Russell), 8/22, 9/26, 10/24

Treasurer’s report – Carl reported a total of $45,168 in all accounts, $12,752 of which is in the dam maintenance account.  FY donations to date are $9,000 compared to last year’s number of $9,900 and $10,274 for the prior year.    All current fiscal year (2016) dues have been received of $1,860.  Total income for this fiscal year is $10,733 with total expenditures of $1,833, plus $2,000 transferred to the dam maintenance account.  Major expenses are fund raising $1,185 and water monitoring $604.


Report on 4 Winter Projects (with project group, lead person underlined):

#1 - Hydro-raking or dredging of canal – plan development & taking initial action steps – (Mark, Linda)

Ken reported from Mark’s notes to him that there is not much to update on this topic.  There has been little demonstrated interest in this project from those who live on the canal or in the surrounding area.  This project will take a considerable amount of resources in the way of staff time and funding to proceed, neither of which the town has at this time.  Mark has spoken with the Conservation Commission and they have a good understanding of what the permit process will look like if & when we go forward, but without some initiative from adjacent & nearby property owners, he can’t see prioritizing this.

Ken expressed a similar sentiment.  But since we know that the professional monitoring of Nordeen Marsh & pond water levels for 3 years was a previously expressed condition for Natural Heritage consideration of a deeper drawdown, that would appear to be a next step, as if we ultimately seek dredging, a deeper drawdown will be needed.  Two possible vendors were identified by Conservation Agent Shep Evans, & Linda Kay has reportedly done some follow-up, but in the absence of a proposal & related cost, this item is tabled.

Ken mentioned that UMass is studying Richmond Pond & other area lakes to assess the effect of lake draw-downs, including measurement of water levels & impacts on plants & animals.  This study by doctoral candidate Jason Carmignani & others is still in progress.

#2 - Watershed mapping to pinpoint possible pollution sources; potentials of Geosyntec web tool for watershed management plan development – (Susan, Ken)

Ken reported that, while Susan had repeatedly inquired of him whether the web tool was yet live, action on this item was delayed by the delay in the launch of the Geosyntec the web tool.  Ken was informed in March by Bob Hartzell of Geosyntec that the free watershed management web tool had been finalized & released for use.  Ken shared this info with Mark.  Mark asked Conservation Agent Shep Evans to evaluate the tool & make a recommendation.  Ken spoke last Wednesday with Shep about the web tool after he had studied it.

Shep indicated that it's not limited to one access per entity, so each of us can open the link, create our own username & password, & study it.  He also shared that part of the incentive from the Commonwealth is that any entity that uses this tool to create its watershed management plan then becomes potentially eligible for grant funding from Section 319 of the Clean Water Act for related projects, & if you're not using this tool, you're not eligible.  The state is trying to standardize watershed management approaches with this leverage.

Both Mark & Shep suggested that the appropriate agency for the Town of Richmond (its ConCom), the appropriate agency for the City of Pittsfield (since the pond spans two jurisdictions), and the RPA each spend some time studying this resource.   Following that, there should be a collaborative discussion about which entity should become the "lead" entity for developing the Richmond Pond watershed management plan.  All are encouraged to click on the link: http://prj.geosyntec.com/MassDEPWBP  & study it.  Perhaps by the time of the RPA's May 23rd meeting, all three entities will have studied it & be ready to schedule a 3-way meeting about next steps.  The watershed-based plan structure includes 9 elements, & its detail for our watershed includes a link to the 223 page Diagnostic/Feasibility Study for the Management of Richmond Pond that was conducted in 1990 by Baystate Environmental Consultants, Inc.

#3 - Develop education plan for boating & swimmer safety to include researching restricting jet-ski/personal watercraft (as does Stockbridge Bowl) – (John, Susan, Jim, Louise)

John reported on his research, recommending that RPA adopt & link on the RPA website the following related resources; by Red Cross: Swimming Safely in Lakes Rivers and Streams; and the following links on www.mass.gov: Water Safety; Keeping Kids Safe Around Water; Boater Safety Law; Personal Watercraft Safety Law; Stand-up Paddle Board Safety.  Ken will add these links.

Discussion followed about possible components of an education plan.  Suggestions included:

  • Updating the related sign that’s posted on the boat launch kiosk, perhaps also posting one at the Richmond Shores mailbox kiosk & at the fence post nearest the boat launch ramp.  Jim will share the sign they developed for Onota & Pontoosuc Lakes, as a possible replacement.
  • Sending a related email communication to each of the community association presidents, requesting its distribution to their homeowners, addressing both boating & swimmer safety & a boat washing/zebra mussels reminder.
  • Developing a related handout for distribution by boat launch monitors to each boater.  This will be explored with Mark.
  • Exploring edits to the pond map to show the semi-private beaches (Richmond Shores, South Pond Farm, Camp Russell & Lakeside Christian Camp) & demark the 150-foot safety zone from a public or private swimming area, within which MA Boating Law prohibits operating a motorboat.


John reported that he has reached out to Richard Seltzer, president of the Stockbridge Bowl Association, requesting info on how they restricted jet-ski/personal watercraft, but they have not yet connected.  John will pursue & report details at our May meeting.  Jim volunteered to chair the subgroup to further study & implement boating & swimmer safety suggestions.

#4 - Facebook page enhancement – (Carl, Mark, John)

Carl reported that John had initially created the Facebook page & turned it over to him.  Over the winter, Carl posted a few pictures.  Some generated responses; some did not.  His suggestions are: RPA needs to develop an exciting 2017 agenda to promote.  The Facebook page needs contributors to post eye catching items and to add friends.  Then we can pay to push exposure as offered by Facebook.  ($100 has already been approved but not yet expended for this purpose.)

Ken shared Mark’s notes – Mark’s experience starting the Gt. Barrington Historical Society’s Facebook page, & starting Richmond’s Facebook page, is that we’ll want to have an outline for the summer, & post a lot of new & old pictures & news, but keep it light & brief.  Getting people to follow the page takes time & effort, & some financial resources to target the geographic area.  He’s found that posting pictures makes the post stand out, & usually gets people “liking” & commenting, which helps promote the page.  Spending some money this spring & summer on promoting the page will also help.  For about $20/week we could target everyone with a Facebook account in Richmond & Pittsfield, & this will bring in a number of followers.  We should also promote it on the town website & the town Facebook page, & get as many people as possible to recommend it to their “friends” on Facebook.  Once we’ve built up about 100 followers, the page kind of grows on its own as long as we continue to post fresh material.

Suggested items to feature in posts include our monthly meetings, the annual meeting/picnic, safe boating, & swimming safety, hopefully with a photo each time.  Carl will work with Mark & John to implement as summer nears, & everyone’s encouraged to send Carl photos.

Active – Priority Projects:

Lake Management Plan – Ken reported that most of the publicity steps outlined in the October RPA minutes have been accomplished.  Jim & Cathy will study the plan & develop “next steps” recommendations to present at the May meeting.

Shoreline fishing trail update – Ken reported that as a follow up to discussion at the 10/25 RPA meeting, he met with the Richmond Board of Selectmen on 11/23/16 & requested & received their approval to allow RPA volunteers to periodically trim that trail & to have 3 signs fabricated & placed by the Highway Dept. at the designated locations on the trail.  Ken shared with the Selectmen Lakeside’s concerns that the fishing trail not be actively marketed (as it could increase trespassing onto Lakeside property), so the first of the 4 initially proposed signs, which was to have been placed on the chain link fence at Town Beach, is being eliminated.  Ken will request fabrication of the other 3 signs, so they should be up soon.  He & Ted Potter will walk in & trim the trail this week.

Proposed Planning Board rezoning around the pond – Carl reported that there are no new developments, as Planning Board is awaiting comment from the Boys & Girls Club/Camp Russell.

Formation of picnic planning group – Peter confirmed Camp Russell’s willingness to host the event on July 25.  John offered that Lakeside would contribute some of the refreshments.  Susan & Peter volunteered to serve on a planning group, but planning ramp-up will wait until closer to the event.

Announcements:

Year-end weed control report from Solitude – Carl reported that the spring pre-treatment survey, the June application, & mid-summer assessment confirmed a successful treatment; the fall survey confirmed the same. Communication continues between Mark and Solitude to establish the budget for this year.  Solitude plans to conduct the pre-treatment survey on May 5th and treat the lake in early June within the agreed upon contract with the town.

Creation of Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary – Ken noted the recent related articles in Mass Audubon publications, Richmond Record & Berkshire Eagle.  The 21 acre parcel in Richmond with beaver ponds & the great blue heron rookery was donated by the purchasers of Camp Marion White.  It is the 100th Mass Audubon sanctuary.  Mass Audubon has erected a temporary sign.  There are 2 parking spots in the adjacent pull-off, & the public is requested not to park on private property on the west side of Swamp Road.  Holly raised a concern about the large size of the beaver dam, noting that about 30 years ago, a similar dam in that location had given way & resulted in a 4-foot wall of water rushing down to the lake.  It was suggested that Conservation Commission explore installing beaver deceivers to prevent further build-up of the dam.

Other Town-related announcements -

- Annual Town Meeting will be May 17, 7:30 pm at Richmond School.  The one pond-related warrant item is $15,000 for weed treatment.  The boat ramp monitors & beach lifeguards are level-funded & included in the public works budget.

- Boat launch area improvements are starting this week, to be completed before Memorial Day.  Closing of boat ramp access will only be needed for a couple of days, dates to be determined & posted/announced in advance.

- Benches - Ken suggested that RPA consider purchasing one or two benches for the boat launch area, as they’re not included in the plan, but details need to be developed, for possible action at the May meeting.

- Formation of implementation committee for Open Space & Recreation Plan – Mark had indicated that he’d suggest that the Selectmen act on this, but in his absence, there was no update.

Sewer user advisory committee & results of 3/29/17 information session – Ken reported that he’d attended the session & most recommendations made last summer had been implemented.  Handouts from the info session should be posted on the town website soon.  Four of the 6 spots on the advisory committee have been filled, but the group had not yet met.


Richmond Conservation Commission perspectives (beaver deceivers at Nordeen Marsh, etc.) – No report


Reminder - Wearing of PFDs by kayakers/canoe paddlers are required by law until May 15.


Dead trees - Concern was expressed about the large number of dead trees behind the cottages on the south shore, which could potentially pose a forest fire hazard unless cut & removed.  It was alternatively noted that the dead trees provide nesting sites for birds & should remain standing unless posing a danger to swimming or human activity areas.


Invitation - It was suggested that the new owners of the former Camp Marion White property be invited to our meetings.  Ken will reach out to them.

Any update items, of interest to all, from each camp & community association?   New chief operating officer & camp director Peter Fish reported that orientation for Camp Russell summer staff was imminent, & he would include boater & swimmer safety information in the orientation.  It was suggested that their staff, campers & parents be alerted not to rely upon GPS to access Camp Russell, as some systems direct the driver to Lake Road or Branch Farm Road, neither of which provide access to Camp Russell.

Next meeting – May 23, 2017

Attendees:

Directors Present:  Ken Kelly, president (independent cottages); Susan Benner, vice president, (Whitewood); Carl Foote, treasurer (Branch Farm); Peter Fish (Camp Russell); Jim McGrath (City of Pittsfield); John Mead (Lakeside Christian Camp)
Alternates Present:   Kitty Levitan (Whitewood); Al Nardacci (independent cottages); Frank Ostrander (Camp Russell)
Guests present: Ted Potter (Richmond Shores); Holly Stover (Branch Farm)

Directors Absent:  Cathy Deely, secretary (South Pond); Nick Martinelli (Richmond Conservation Commission); Matt Melillo (Richmond Shores); Mark Pruhenski (Richmond Town Administrator)
Alternates Absent:  Kais Abderrahim (Camp Russell); Jessica Baumgarten (South Pond Farm); Louise Brogan (Branch Farm); Linda Kay (Richmond Shores); Christopher Jacoby (Camp Russell); Jesse Kellam (Lakeside Christian Camp); Barry Kellogg (Richmond Shores); Jack O’Brien (Branch Farm); John O’Brien (Branch Farm); Karl Volkman (Richmond Shores); Adam Weinberg (Richmond Conservation Commission); Herb Zweig (Richmond Shores)