Ashfield needs more snow money, access to dam

ASHFIELD — On Monday, special town meeting voters will be asked to pay some bills, spend more money on winter road plowing, and allow the town to pursue easement rights to the Ashfield Lake Dam, for maintenance and repair.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

The town is asking to transfer $72,600 from its “free cash” reserves to be put into the Highway Department’s winter roads account. According to Highway Superintendent Thomas Poissant, the snowy winter left the account with a $40,000 deficit by the end of February. “Winters like this, with frequent small snowfalls, gets expensive,” he remarked. “It would be cheaper to get 8 inches in one day than to clean up several snowfalls of an inch or two.” He said any unspent balance of the $72,000 request will be returned to the general fund.

Two warrant articles seek permission for selectmen to acquire 20-foot wide easements along the Ashfield Lake Dam. One is for property belonging to Philip F. Nolan Jr. Funding Trust, and the other is for access on land belonging to the Decker Machine Works, on Route 116.

Executive Administrator Mary Fitz-Gibbon said the easement acquisitions are “friendly” articles, in that both landowners are willing to permit access to the dam. She said the state rating for the dam has been downgraded from “satisfactory” to “fair” in recent years, which has prompted town officials to improve what a 2012 report called “embankment deficiencies,” drainage problems and masonry. Fitz-Gibbon said residents will see work on the dam over the next two years.

Another article adjusts the boundary between town-owned land and a resident’s land on Bronson Avenue.

Other money requests, all to come from transfers within the budget, are:

∎ $2,200 for Fire Department expenses;

∎ $1,233 for veterans’ benefits;

∎ $200 to the Appeals Board; and

∎ $4,200 to the Town Hall Fire Station account.

∎ Also, $10,000 is to come from the Sewer Enterprise Fund to replace a truck at the wastewater treatment plant.

∎ Another $4,634 from that enterprise fund is to be used to compensate the treatment plant operator for unused vacation time.

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