By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The Conservation Commission plans to systematically look at all town-owned land to determine what parcels would lend themselves to conservation and then ask the town to turn those parcels over to the commission. ConCom members decided on this approach after learning that the town is looking at selling off yet another municipally-owned parcel on Fellsmere Avenue in Greenwood.
Commissioners were somewhat relieved that the buyer interested in purchasing the parcel from the town is an abutter and not a developer. But commissioners were still concerned that the parcel, which is mostly ledge, could still be subject to significant alterations that could have a ripple effect in nearby neighborhoods. Two weeks ago, the commission heard from Gregory Road neighbors who have experienced serious flooding since another former town-owned parcel on Druid Hill Avenue was developed.
The commission was in receipt of a memorandum from Town Planner Paul Reavis to Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio in which Reavis recommends the sale of this parcel “with a restriction to preserve the ledge out-cropping and contour of the site.”
But Commissioner Peter Miller was looking for stronger reassurances that the parcel would not be sold as a buildable lot. Chairman Frank J. Luciani Jr. said that if he were assured that it would remain a non-buildable lot forever he would not oppose the sale.
Commissioner David Peterson pointed out that the abutter could in fact be interested in purchasing the parcel to make sure that nothing is built on it. Conservation Agent Elaine Vreeland noted that some people do purchase property in order to preserve its natural beauty.
But Miller remained cautious, arguing that if the commission couldn’t get assurances that nothing would be built on the lot, they should recommend that the town hold on to it. He pointed out that even if no house were built on the lot, a new owner could still significantly alter it by putting something else on the land or taking down all of the trees.
Vreeland said that the Board of Selectmen was waiting to hear the commission’s opinion on selling the parcel. Miller wanted further clarification on exactly what kind of restrictions would be attached to the sale, as that would impact the commission’s recommendation.
Miller observed that a buyer would be unlikely to pay much for a non-buildable lot. In that case, Miller wondered if it made sense for the town to sell the lot at all if the price and future tax revenue would be minimal.
The town has assessed the .219 acre parcel on Fellsmere Avenue at $152,000.
The commission asked Vreeland to clarify with Maio exactly what kinds of restrictions would be placed on the property if it were to be sold. Vreeland and Miller will then work on a recommendation for what the town should do with of the land.
The commission continued discussing ways to determine what it would take for Lake Quannapowitt to meet “fishable” and “swimmable” standards.
Commissioners had hoped that a Mass DEP report from the clean up of Hartshorne Cove would provide recent enough data that the commission could use it to get an idea of the current condition of the Lake. Commissioner Frank Calandra said that he had requested the report but noted that when files exceed a certain size, the DEP will only send them out on CD and he had yet to receive the CD.
Calandra did say that the report should provide baseline water quality data and other information useful to the Commission.
Peterson, a chemist, said that strictly from a chemical standpoint, it was likely that the Lake was safe for swimming. But he said that until some way is found to get the blue-green algae under control, he wouldn’t recommend swimming in the Lake.
Luciani said that was exactly the reason for his curiosity as to the Lake’s potential to again be swimmable. He said that he would hate to see the town spend a lot of money to get rid of the algae only to find out that the Lake was still not suitable for swimming. But Peterson pointed out that regardless of the swimming issue, the algae was still killing the Lake.
Calandra said that he expected to receive the CD of the DEP file soon and would report at the commission’s next meeting.
The Commission issued a Certificate of Compliance for 413 Lowell St., the site of a new apartment building. The commission also lifted an enforcement order for the site after the requested correction was made.