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Ashfield bolsters snow funds

Voters also OK money for lake dam repairs

ASHFIELD — Voters approved spending more for winter road bills and OK’d easements near the Ashfield Lake Dam so that the town can begin maintenance and repairs recommended by a state inspection in 2012.

Residents approved permanent 20-foot-wide dam access, maintenance and repair easements on properties belonging to Decker Machine Works and the Philip F. Nolan Jr. Trust, near Ashfield Lake.

These easements will enable the town to make recommended repairs to the surface of the dam, and to take out trees whose root systems might endanger the dam, which impounds Ashfield Lake.

The dam had been downgraded from “satisfactory” to “fair,” by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Office of Dam Safety, and the town would like to improve its rating. Failure to do so could increase the town’s insurance costs, Selectboard member Ron Coler said.

The easements will give the town the right to bring in highway equipment to areas requiring brush or tree removal. The report found minor seepage, brush and exposed soils on the embankment, and cracking on the concrete.

“The Nolans and Decker have been very graciously working with the town,” said Coler. He pointed out that the town is not taking any land, just gaining access to the dam for maintenance purposes.

Winter roads

Although the town budgeted $85,000 for plowing and managing winter roads, the Highway Department has spent that amount and about $49,000 more, Selectboard Chairman Thomas Carter said.

Residents agreed to add $72,000 more to Winter Roads from the town’s $322,600 certified “free cash” reserves. Carter said the town will probably have a few more snowstorms to clean up before spring arrives. He said that any money left over after winter will be used to buy more winter supplies for next year.

Carter said the winter roads line item estimate in the town budget has been too low, and that future winter roads requests will be based on a three-year average of what the town actually spends to clear snow and ice. He said the town will probably ask for $105,000 for winter roads for Fiscal Year 2015.

Also approved was an adjustment to the boundary line of the town-owned land on the former Sanderson Academy parking area and an abutter’s property on Bronson Avenue.

The following money transfers were also approved: $4,634 from the Sewer Enterprise Fund to compensate the treatment plant operator for unused vacation time; $10,000 from the Sewer Enterprise Fund for a truck replacement at the wastewater treatment plant; $2,200 for expenses related to firefighting at a Briar Hill Road house fire; and $4,200 from the Fred Cross Fund to pay for paint used last summer on the Town Hall.

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