Welcome – Ken opened the Zoom meeting at 7:02 pm, and welcomed all in attendance.
Approval of minutes of 6/22/21 and 7/27/21 – Doreen asked for motions to approve the minutes from 6/22/21 and from the annual meeting on 7/27/21. Motions approved.
Financial report– Carl reported that the receivables due from participating property owners from the last Wild Goose Chase bill are $2,262. Balances in the accounts are $62,363, with $24,023 in the Dam Maintenance fund, $2,753 in the Canal Maintenance fund, and $1,700 in the Pond History Book fund. He is assembling the annual fiscal report which is due to the Commonwealth by Nov. 1, 2021. Donations to date this fiscal year are at $6,440 including the Richmond Shores Civic Assn. donation of $1,000 to the Canal fund. He will renew the CD’s this week for the Dam Maintenance fund and an RPA general account.
Updates on happenings at the pond:
Return visit for hand-pulling canal weeds - Doreen reported that the Aquatic Roots scuba diving team returned on August 17th to do a maintenance visit to the canal. They removed 651 pounds of material. The weeds harvested were primarily Elodea or water weed (native weed). European or Brittle naiad (invasive, non-native species) was seen in the southern area of the canal, this was carefully removed. Laurie Rock has downloaded additional photos, videos and data that can be viewed on Aquatic Roots’ Richmond Pond Google drive folder. Its link is, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kM3T5gUqDzoZEPegUalU5BTkVyNIG_TH?usp=sharing
Doreen thanked Brian Grebeldinger for the use of his wagon and disposing of the weeds away from the Pond. Carl has a meeting scheduled Sept. 1st with Aquatic Roots to discuss options for 2022. Children were recently seen swimming in the canal – perhaps one result of the project!
Status of Natural Heritage permit renewal – Danielle was not present at the meeting to report on the status of the permit. Ken was contacted by Town staff and provided them with Solitude’s contact information.
Weed treatments & tape-weed update – Carl reported that the first invasive weeds treatment was done in June and the follow-up survey in July did not find any invasive weeds. They did find lots of different algae growth and the start of tape grass. Tape grass weed treatment of a test area should have been done late July but was put on hold by Natural Heritage, as the Town’s related permit had not been renewed with Natural Heritage. A question was asked about the floating islands of weeds. Carl explained that the algae was catching the tape grass causing these areas of thicker floating weeds.
Cyanobacteria & tributary testing results: – Carl relayed that on August 5, 2021, one sample was taken at Ken’s dock and one sample at 18 feet in 53.2 feet of water. The lake at this time is safe and the cyanobacteria that was seen at 15 feet in the last sampling has decreased significantly. The next test is scheduled for August 26th.
On August 16th the tributaries and outlet were tested. eColi numbers were below 60 MPN/100mL, way below the 235 threshold. Phosphates and Nitrates were similar to the July numbers. Ron Veillette asked where the highest phosphates readings were found. Carl did not have that information at hand but will provide it to Ron.
Goose management plan update – Laura reported that the goose management with border collies is winding down. Unless she hears otherwise from participating property owners, Eric’s last visit to Richmond Pond will be early Friday morning, August 27th, though the schedule may be amended to add a visit the week before Labor Day Weekend. In general, the goose population is lower than in the past two years. During the fall, geese are seen flying in from other areas and then stay overnight but don’t overstay their welcome. The beaches are cleaner. The heavy rainfall from Henri may have helped wash the droppings into the pond. But overall, it seems that this has been a better year of goose management. A question was asked about whether the goose management plan will be repeated in 2022. That decision will be made in spring, but it likely will be repeated.
Town Beach operation & lifeguards – Neal relayed that the life guards and the boat monitors will be finished after Labor Day. The Town beach will remain open but it will be swim at your own risk.
Update on History of Richmond Pond book project – Ken reported that work continues on finalizing chapters and the photos that will accompany each chapter. He has been advised by the publisher that printing costs have gone up, given decreased availability of paper pulp, and may still cost more than predicted by the time the book is to be published. They will not know this for a couple of months.
Folks can submit pre-orders, to reserve copies of the book, at $20 each, with no payment due until the book is published. To reserve a copy or copies, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: your name, number of copies of the book you would like to pre-order, your email address, & your phone number. There is no money due at this time. You will be contacted in the fall when the books have been published. This same information as well as the book’s Table of Contents is on the RPA website under the More link on the menu bar.
Report on Camp Russell’s summer camp – Dan or a Camp Russell Alternate were not present to report on how the camp year went. The last day of camp was August 20th.
Informational Sewer Enterprise Meeting, Zoning Questions on Richmond Shores - Neal relayed that the Sewer Enterprise meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, 8/25, at 4:00 pm. The meeting can be attended in person at the Town Hall or by Zoom. Paul Lisi will be in charge of the meeting and the documents are available to view on the Town’s website. Neal will check to make sure the Zoom link has been posted. Holly Stover has sent a related letter to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) with concerns about building on Richmond Shores and use of the beach road. This is on the agenda to be discussed at the BOS meeting tomorrow evening.
Updating of Beach & Tributary Testing Protocol, adding cyanobacteria & Phosphorus testing, pond closing decision process & public communication alerts process – Doreen had sent the initial draft to the RPA Executive Board a few months ago but this has not been reviewed by all. She discussed her experience with communication to the Board of Health (BOH) when RSCA’s beach tested positive for E.coli. There was never a response from the BOH. She asked Neal if he had any insight into the reporting procedure. He and Danielle have discussed what to do in regards to reporting and communication if the Pond needed to be closed no matter what the cause. RPA will continue to work on the draft protocol update to present to the Town and the BOH.
Dam management/remediation plans @ The Camp; water level impact – Ken announced that Jon Millburg of Cloverdale Properties LLC (The Camp by Bousquet) & Mill Town Capital has received a “Certificate of Non-Compliance and Dam Safety Order” from the MA Dept. of Conservation & Recreation (DCR). Copies have been provided to Richmond Conservation Commission and the RPA executive board. He expressed concern over the report and the impact this could have on the Pond.
Jon explained that the status of the dam has not changed over the past 15 years and there is no immediate danger. There is a follow-up inspection in 6 months. They have already reached out to 3 engineering firms that work on dam remediation to make a master plan. The plan will include evaluation of the dam and options for the spillways. A Phase 1 inspection is done every 5 years and is due by August 2022. They will address the second spillway and the options for more water release. The hope is that construction will be done during the Pond’s draw down period. Holly asked that if the spillway needs to be replaced to have a better gate system put in place at the top rather than the bottom which will allow for better control the water level. Construction needs to be done by August 2023. Ron expressed a concern that this is not too far away. Mill Town is confident that they will meet and exceed all of the requirements based on their experience with big projects. They will be in contact with the ConCom for both Richmond and Pittsfield.
Odds & ends:
200’ buffer zone around pond & ConCom permit requirements – Ron reminded us that if any property owners in Richmond are removing trees or vegetation within 200 feet of the Pond that they need to get a permit from the Richmond ConCom, they cannot do this on their own. Pittsfield’s buffer zone is 100 feet and similar rules apply. Ron encouraged replacement plantings to help with the filtration of the Pond’s water.
Eagles nest update – Carl described that he sees the eagles’ children flying. Many boaters are stopping to observe and are enjoying the show. John Reynolds witnessed an eagle killing 2 blue herons by his property and wondered if this was unusual.
Website & Facebook updates - Carl reported that recent Facebook picture posts are only reaching about 180 people. We need a high energy Facebook person to push activity! Carl asked for volunteers, but there were none. Ken reported that the RPA donation tab is now located on the Home page of the RPA website.
Signing up for RPA website subscriber list– Ken asked that if individuals would like to be on the RPA’s subscriber list to email him with your email address, requesting to be added, and he’ll add you to the list. Subscribers receive advance RPA meeting agendas, alerts when the draft minutes are posted, & occasional other pond-related alerts.
Adjournment and Next RPA meeting – Meeting adjourned at 8:01 pm. The next meeting will be Tuesday, September 28, 7:00 pm, by Zoom.
Directors present (voting): Ken Kelly (president, independent cottages), Carl Foote (treasurer, Branch Farm), Doreen Donovan (secretary, Richmond Shores), Miles Garfinkel (At-Large), Carrie Holland (The Camp by Bousquet), Laura Rosenthal (South Pond Farm)
Ex-officio present (non-voting): None present
Alternates present: Kitty Levitan (Whitewood), Jon Millburg (The Camp by Bousquet),), John Reynolds (Whitewood), Ron Veillette (Richmond Conservation Commission)
Guests present: Neal Pilson (Richmond Town Selectman), Alan Schneit (Whitewood), Holly Stover, Chris Thomson (Richmond Shores)
Directors Absent: Susan Benner (vice president, Whitewood), Kerry Hamilton (At-Large), Dan Joslyn (Camp Russell)
Ex-officio absent: Danielle Fillio (Richmond Town Administrator), Jim McGrath (City of Pittsfield), Dan Scorpa (Richmond Conservation Commission)
Alternates Absent: Kais Abderrahim (Camp Russell), Jessica Baumgarten (South Pond Farm Association), Louise Brogan (Branch Farm), Brian Grebeldinger (Richmond Shores), Barry Kellogg (Richmond Shores), Tim Mason (independent cottages), Al Nardacci (independent cottages), Joe McGovern (Camp Russell), John O’Brien (Branch Farm)
Richmond Pond Association
Annual Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, July 27, 2021, 5:00 pm, at The Camp by Bousquet
Tours - As attendees started arriving at The Camp by Bousquet, handouts were provided at a sign-in table. There was also an opportunity to sign-up in advance to reserve copies of the pending publication of the book – A History of Richmond Pond. Ken Kelly, Carrie Holland, Managing Director for Mill Town, & Jon Millburg, Director of Construction, gave pre-tour remarks to attendees, prior to departure of each of three tour groups led by Mill Town staff. The arrival of the forecast severe thunderstorm shortened the tours, as all sought shelter in the large performance barn (the building above the pond’s spillway), where the program was to be held.
Introductions - Following light refreshments provided by Mill Town, and while an intense downpour proceeded outside, Ken re-introduced himself, welcomed all, and acknowledged members of the RPA board. He introduced Carrie Holland, Managing Director for Mill Town, Jon Millburg, Director of Construction, and Matt Linick, recently hired Camp Director.
The Camp by Bousquet - Carrie shared that since The Camp was designed as a summer camp for kids, Mill Town intends to keep it that way. The intent is to open it in 2022 with many different activities. Eventually, parts of the camp will be open year-round, since some of its buildings are winterized. It was pointed out that the new exterior color scheme identifies building type – 3-season buildings are dark red and year-round buildings are stained dark grey (“Raccoon Fur”). Other buildings need to be upgraded, although if any major renovations or improvements are needed, the RPA will be notified. Mill Town believes that transparency makes for good neighbors.
Jon stated that his team will be doing the renovations to the buildings as well as the dam. The intent is to keep existing structures, so he will oversee painting, repairs, replacement of planking, etc. Matt introduced himself as the new director of the summer camp. The current plan is to hold one six-week session (co-ed) as a general camp experience, and to offer two one-week sessions that each have a single focus. One week may be concentrated on sports and another on music. Likely the six-week session will include children ages 8–15, and a music session may be for ages 12–18, but nothing is confirmed yet. The camp will be ACA-accredited. Initially, about 150 campers are expected, but it can be expanded if it becomes as popular as hoped for. If there is a demand for 400 campers, an additional permit will be required. All options are under consideration, but the intent is to provide transparency.
Q&A session focused on The Camp – Questions were posed about the following issues. Regarding watercraft on Richmond Pond, their intent is that canoes, kayaks, SUPs and sailboats will be used at The Camp. Lakeside Christian Camp had two motor boats, so a similar approach regarding motorized craft is likely. There will be no jet-skis, an announcement which drew hearty applause. There are currently trails that connect with the public fishing trail and Richmond town beach, and these will be rehabilitated by the Greenagers. When the camp is in session, these trails will be off-limits for security reasons. But there will likely be times when the trails will be open for general hikers, and this will be announced on a website. The Camp does need to have some perimeter lights for safety. However, in order not to disturb neighbors on the pond, there will be goose-neck lighting which points light down, not toward the pond. They have already reduced pond-side lighting. Mill Town stressed that its mission is to serve the local community, improving the quality of life for those who reside and work here.
Summary of RPA’s activities in 2020-21 - The program then shifted to a summary of RPA’s initiatives. Ken shared highlights of RPA’s year since last summer – referring to the 2020 annual report, which was provided.
· With COVID-19 in spring 2020, the RPA shifted its meeting format and met monthly as Zoom meetings throughout 2020, with good attendance. They’ve done the same this spring and summer so far.
· A major change at the pond was Lakeside Christian Camp’s closing in spring 2020; it was put on the market, & purchased by Mill Town Capital in Dec. 2020, after which RPA reached out to Carrie & Jon & welcomed & incorporated The Camp by Bousquet into the RPA as an active participant.
· With regard to Balderdash Cellars Winery, RPA has continued its posture of remaining neutral but trying to facilitate communication amongst the parties regarding the evolving parameters of Balderdash’s farm function permit. Live music noise concerns have been expressed by some members of Richmond Shores, & the Town’s Board of Selectmen has jurisdiction over those matters.
· The RPA continued its multiple efforts to assist the Town in managing the health of the pond, as outlined in the 2020 annual report. Carl Foote next shared several of those efforts.
Weed treatment – The RPA & the Town worked with contractor, Solitude Lake Management, which conducted an initial treatment June 8th for invasive weeds (Eurasian milfoil, curly-leaf pondweed and spiny naiad). Solitude conducted a full lake survey on July 15th; with Carl accompanying them; this interim survey did not find any invasives. Therefore, the second treatment, usually done in August, will not be needed this year. They also discussed the large presence of algae (pond scum). Solitude will provide an estimate for algae treatment. Paperwork is being prepared.
RPA had budgeted for a sample tape-grass treatment which should be done by late July. But Solitude and the Town have received a communication from MA Natural Heritage that the Town of Richmond must file for a MESA filing for Richmond Pond’s herbicide NOI extension, stating that, “No work or activities may occur subject to Order 263-998 prior to completion of the MESA review process.” Unless that filing is submitted & approved quickly, that tape-grass treatment may not occur this summer.
Tributary testing - All four tributaries plus the dam were tested on July 20th. The feeds seemed remarkably clear two days after the recent deluge, though obvious stone wash was found at Whitewood and Tracy Brook. The water temperature was only 60°F at Whitewood, while other feeds were warmer at 69°F. The dam temperature was 72°F.
Lab results just received provided higher than average E.coli counts, especially at Tracy Brook and Whitewood. The beaver dam at Tracy Brook Wildlife Sanctuary had partially breached, bringing a high volume of water and debris into the pond. A similar situation is obvious at Whitewood. The Richmond Shores community beach had a very high E.coli count and had to close. The waters there were then tested daily and were deemed safe the next day. The good news is that the E.coli number at the outlet at The Camp by Bousquet is very low, suggesting good quality across the pond.
Cyanobacteria testing - Cyanobacteria testing is being done bi-weekly at Richmond Pond’s deep hole (53 feet), paid for by RPA, with boats provided by Ken and Louise. All results are reported in detail. The latest test was done Thursday, July 22nd off Ken’s fishing boat. During the test, the consultant remarked that dissolved oxygen is very low. This may be a result of a high phosphate content due to the recent rains and high runoff from our tributaries and other feeds around the lake. Another indication of the high phosphates is the presence of algae reported around the lake. Cyanobacteria results were recently received, and there are cyanobacteria present, but at deeper levels and at amounts that do not approach concern thresholds. While the pond was OK, ongoing monitoring for surface activity is recommended. It should be noted that the surface should be watched because these cyanobacteria may move up the water column. The water at the 15-foot sample had cyanobacteria that looked like a dog had shed its hair in the water when the sample was held up to the sunlight (easier to see).
Detention basins & swales on Camp Russell’s property - Repairs to these two are to be addressed by the Town of Richmond after Camp Russell’s summer camp season has concluded. During last weekend’s kayak survey, there did not appear to be material runoff from either of the swales.
The Canal – A three-phase plan has been developed to improve the canal: weed-pulling, weed-pulling (again), and possible hydro-raking. In late June, scuba divers from Aquatic Roots of Pittsfield reported, “We were able to clear a 10-foot-wide path in the canal last week, with 50 bags collected and total plant material eight of 905 lbs.” All feedback from our canal users has been great. Divers plan to come back to pull any new growth the week of August 17th. Laurie Rock, the project’s lead scuba diver, was present and appreciated.
The next step will be additional weed pulling in the section between the bridge and Town Beach Road in 2022, also to be paid for by the RPA. RPA has been researching possible hydro-raking in the future, which is a much more costly project and would also require additional permitting. The initial cost estimate is $60,000, so multiple funding sources would be required.
Goose management plan, year 3 – Laura Rosenthal reported that in 2019, the RPA decided to collaborate as a pond community to get the Canada goose population down to a more manageable size. Eric Johnson of Wild Goose Chase NE was hired to deal with the geese on participating properties. (Some communities do not want to participate in the program, so dogs don’t go there.) Eric raises border collies and trains them as sheep dogs – a great skill that translates into herding geese. The dogs only go after geese – not ducks, herons or other birds. And the dogs don’t hurt geese – they herd them off the shore. When we started this program, we had over 150 geese on the lake and on the beaches. As we are experiencing this year, the number of geese has dropped to about 30 to 60, depending on the time of day. Wild Goose Chase’s border collies come to Richmond Pond two or three times a week. Participating property owners are informed ahead of time when Eric will be here to make sure we can stay out of the way of his herding. The goal is not to eliminate the goose population on the lake; it’s just to keep the contamination of our beaches below toxic levels so that we can keep Richmond Pond and all its users healthy. There was a question about how effective the dogs are, since there is a lot of goose poop on The Camp’s lawn. It is expected that with more human activity at The Camp next year, droppings will be fewer.
Boat ramp & town beach staffing - Ken reported for Danielle Fillio, who could not attend, that all of the monitoring positions at the boat ramp and lifeguard positions at town beach have been filled. The permit applications for continued weed treatments & addressing the detention basins are in process.
Book – A History of Richmond Pond – Kerry Hamilton reported on the status of this book, which started two years ago as an idea for a fun RPA project, has turned into quality production. Ken Kelly, Gloria Morse, Susan Abramowitz, Jan Hartford, Valeri Reynolds and Kerry have been researching, writing and editing; several additional writers have also contributed. It is now expected to run about 200 pages with 180 images. Most of its 25 chapters are completed. We are planning to print 250 copies, which will be available in the fall, in time for the Christmas holidays. It will cost $20, and if not sold out through pre-orders, will be available for sale at Bartlett’s, Balderdash, Hancock Shaker Village and The Bookstore in Lenox.
Odd & Ends - Ken mentioned that he writes a Richmond Pond Update column in the Richmond Record (a monthly publication for $21/year). There is also a robust RPA website & a Facebook page. The annual fund-raising letter was just sent out and copies were made available.
More Q&A – Several additional questions were asked – some for RPA and some for The Camp. Are there any guidelines for open water swimmers? For safety, such swimmers need to be visible to boaters by using a bubble, a brightly colored cap, and/or a companion in a boat. There was a concern about pollution if there are too many motor boats in the water. Issuing motor boat permits for the pond was suggested, but are not a viable option, but all motorboats do have to be registered annually with the state, wherever they are used. There has been a lot of erosion around the beaches this year, and a caution against adding sand to beaches was shared, as adding too much sand will add to pollution of the water.
Ken thanked The Camp for hosting the meeting & providing refreshments. Meeting was adjourned around 6:15 pm. Miraculously, the rain stopped when the meeting ended!
Directors present (voting): Ken Kelly (president, independent cottages), Carl Foote (treasurer, Branch Farm), Susan Benner (vice president, Whitewood), Kerry Hamilton (At-Large), Carrie Holland (The Camp by Bousquet), Miles Garfinkel (At-Large), Laura Rosenthal (South Pond Farm)
Alternates present: Jessica Baumgarten (South Pond Farm), Louise Brogan (Branch Farm), Brian Grebeldinger (Richmond Shores), Kitty Levitan (Whitewood), Tim Mason (independent cottages), Jon Millburg (The Camp by Bousquet), Al Nardacci (independent cottages), John Reynolds (Whitewood), Ron Veillette (Richmond Conservation Commission)
Guests present: Attendance exceeded 100, from all of the pond’s communities & other local users of the pond. Though 64 guests signed in, other guests were unable to sign in, given the storm’s intervention, so a partial list of guest attendees is not included here.
Directors Absent: Doreen Donovan (secretary, Richmond Shores), Dan Joslyn (Camp Russell)
Ex-officio absent: Danielle Fillio (Richmond Town Administrator), Dan Scorpa (Richmond Conservation Commission), Jim McGrath (City of Pittsfield)
Alternates Absent: Kais Abderrahim (Camp Russell), Barry Kellogg (Richmond Shores), Joe McGovern (Camp Russell), John O’Brien (Branch Farm)