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MONSON POND BOAT LANDING

DISCUSSED AT PUBLIC HEARING

 

By: David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher,

Fort Fairfield Journal, December 2, 2009, p.1

FORT FAIRFIELD - Around a dozen Fort Fairfield inhabitants gathered at a public hearing at the town office on November 10 to discuss strategies for remedying the dilapidated boat landing at Monson Pond.

Tony Levesque, Fort Fairfield’s Code Enforcement and Economic & Community Development Director, along with Skip Babineau, Coordinator for the St. John Aroostook Resource, Conservation and Development Area, facilitated the public hearing in order field comments from people regarding what they would like to see done at the pond.

“Monson Pond was created by the Public Lands 566 program in 1964 in order to build a dam on Libby Brook to help stop flooding in downtown Fort Fairfield,” said Babineau. “The Frontier Fish & Game club used to own the land on and around the boat landing. Ownership of that land was transferred to the town in 1965. From 1965 to 1975, the Fish & Game membership maintained the land by keeping the grass mowed and area cleaned up, at which point that responsibility was transferred to the town.

The town maintained the boat landing area until the early 1980’s when vandalism became more of a problem than the town was able to deal with and the picnic area fell into disrepair. Since then, the boat landing has deteriorated to such a point that it is not feasible to use as a boat launch.

Monson Pond is considered by the State of Maine to be a public recreational area and as such must have some form of public access to and from the water.

“The purpose of this hearing is to ask the citizens what they would like to see done at Monson Pond, if anything. There are currently no plans to do anything, this is just the discussion phase,” said Levesque.

One of the primary points brought up at the meeting was the need for a boat wharf - or dock - to aid people in entering and exiting their watercraft. Levesque brought up the need for a concrete pad for the launch in order to prevent disturbing the shoreline. “If we receive any grant money, we’ll likely be told it will have to be a concrete pad for the boat launch,” he said.

In addition to a dock and concrete launch, it was generally agreed that some form of restroom facilities would need to be considered since people are simply relieving themselves in the tree line at this point in time. Jacquie Martin heads up the 21st Century After School Program, which uses the pond for some of its activities. “We bring the kids to Monson Pond at times for kayaking and canoeing. It would be really great if we had some restrooms on site,” she said.

Art Mraz conducted a survey of the people who live around Monson Pond and said everyone he spoke to was in support of developing plans to upgrade the boat landing area, as well as other infrastructure upgrades such as parking, rest rooms and signage.

The town council will soon be considering a short-term fix to the rest room problem by looking into renting portable toilets until a more permanent structure can be developed.

Levesque is moving forward on developing an ad hoc committee of citizens to devise plans on how to best move forward with the upgrades.

Funding sources for any proposed projects may be derived from the Maine Department of Transportation, United States Department of Agriculture or the Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. The Maine IF&W does use the boat landing at Monson Pond for periodic stocking of fish and may be interested in participating in any upgrades to that area.

Other items discussed were the posting of setbacks for high powered watercraft from the shoreline and wildlife, such as nesting loons, there.

Levesque estimates the earliest time improvements may begin to be made to be around the Spring of 2011.