By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The Conservation Commission is happy with apparent improvements to the health of Heron Pond after the commission told Heron Pond Condominiums management last spring that they had to abide by their Order of Conditions and reduce the amount of lawn fertilizer and other landscaping treatments used within the complex. But the commission believes there is still room for improvement and last night wrestled with the possibilities of issuing an enforcement order or calling management back for another meeting.
Barbara Krafte, a resident of the 410 Salem St. condo complex, last night showed the commission photos of Heron Pond taken at the end of the summer 2014 season that appeared to show a significant reduction in lily pads and blue-green algae since the same time in 2013. Krafte said that she believed that that the commission’s instructing condo management to cease treating the lawns with fertilizer was the reason for the “startling” improvement.
It was Krafte who initially brought the deteriorating condition of Heron Pond to the commission’s attention. Last March 6 the ConCom met with Krafte, who told the commission that there had been a decline in the water quality in Heron Pond, marked by a noticeable increase in algae and lily pads. She blamed excessive use of lawn fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides for damaging the wetland and wondered if the Commission could step in.
Last April, the commission requested that representatives of the condo complex management come before them to discuss the issue. Conservation Agent Elaine Vreeland said at the time that the Conservation Commission was interested in having soil testing done so it could be determined if there was a connection between the lawn treatments at the Heron Pond complex and the deterioration of the Pond.
Officials from the Heron Pond condominium complex agreed last spring to test the soil before beginning their 2014 treatment program. Those tests revealed high levels of phosphorus and potassium in the soils. ConCom chairman Frank J, Luciani Jr. said last spring that there was enough phosphorus and potassium in the soils to last for the rest of the year and beyond.
Heron Pond management agreed to suspend using fertilizer on lawns within the complex for one year, but they didn’t necessarily agree that they were the primary cause of damage to the body of water known as Heron Pond.
Krafte last night attributed the improvement in Heron Pond’s health to the commission’s instructing the condo complex to suspend its lawn treatments. She said that the only condition that had changed was the elimination of the fertilizer.
While acknowledging “great improvement” in the condition of the pond, Krafte did report that there were still a couple of areas where lawn treatment was still going on. She also pointed to an area of the buffer zone that had been “clear cut.” Another issue, according to Krafte, related to areas designated for the storage of plowed snow.
Commissioners applauded the condo complex for the improvements but shared Krafte’s lingering concerns, especially with regard to the area that had been clear cut.
“That is a serious violation,” Commissioner David Peterson said, suggesting that the appropriate action would be to issue an enforcement order. “They need to take this seriously and clear-cutting is a serious issue. If you don’t do it under an enforcement order there’s no record of it.”
Other members favored the less formal approach of asking representatives of Heron Pond Condominiums management to come back and discuss the issues.
Commissioner Peter Miller said that the commission should ask for written confirmation that condo management has properly instructed their landscape firm as to what they are allowed to do and not allowed to do.
Krafte said that as a result of coming forward earlier this year she has gotten “incredible pushback” from the Heron Pond Association board of trustees. She insisted that a number of other Heron Pond residents agreed with her activism but were reluctant to come forward for fear of retribution from the condo board.
ConCom members decided to have Conservation Agent Elaine Vreeland pull the file and discuss the issues with her at the commission’s next meeting before deciding on a course of action.
The commission received a letter from Bucky Love, vice president of construction for D.L. Poulin, Inc., regarding the Cumberland Farms project at the head of the Lake.
Love explained that the new Cumberland Farms store planned to open this month but due to the lateness of the season it would not be possible to complete required landscaping until the spring. Love outlined soil stabilization measures that would be completed for the winter especially along the wetlands in the rear. He expressed hope that there would be no problems receiving a Certificate of Occupancy as a result of the delayed completion of the landscaping.
Commissioners expressed concern that once Cumberland Farms received its Occupancy Permit they might have less incentive to do the landscaping.
Chairman Frank J. Luciani Jr. said that he didn’t have a problem with what Love was proposing but would ask Vreeland to review the property.