Of fundraisers and tree-trimming

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 7:00am

With summer barely over, plans are already underway for next year, including a fundraiser and maintenance projects.

The Land Trust had a request for a fundraising event to be held next year at the Solviken Preserve that Trustees considered during their meeting on Sept. 14.

The fundraiser, being organized by Melissa Hempstead on behalf of the Block Island Conservancy, is “styled as a country fair,” said Bill Comings, president of the BIC, which co-owns the Solviken property along with the Land Trust. There will be games and events, with a “major message” regarding the environment, conservation and composting. “Family fun with a major educational component,” he said.

With little discussion, the fundraiser was quickly approved.

Trash is of some concern at the Solviken. This summer there was a lot of trash at the site “which we need to do something about,” said Land Trust Chair Barbara MacMullan. She asked Comings if the BIC shared its interns with The Nature Conservancy, suggesting they might be able to assist in the monitoring of the situation and cleaning up when necessary. 

Chris Littlefield of The Nature Conservancy said that he thought that next year the TNC/BIC interns could help out in the situation. 

Comings said there needed to be some “policing,” and trash at the site was “a huge problem this year because of one major party.” He felt the situation just needed monitoring to see if there is a need to hire someone to clean up the Preserve.

Kim Gaffett, also of The Nature Conservancy, said: “There are enough groups here. We shouldn’t need to hire someone.” She suggested an “Adopt-A” program, whereby businesses might volunteer to do some clean-up. 

One suggestion was to ask “the business to the south” to help out. “It sure is utilized,” said Littlefield of the Solviken.

The mystery sign at Fresh Pond came up for discussion for the third month in a row. It was noted that the sign had been moved across the street, off the Land Trust’s property. 

“Who was responsible?” asked MacMullan.

Trustee Harold “Turtle” Hatfield said it was the Chamber of Commerce.

Gaffett said it had the Tourism Council’s logo on it. 

“All’s well that ends well,” said MacMullan, “so long as it’s not on our property.”

Others still objected to the sign, although they did acknowledge that they often saw people stopping to read it.

Water quality at Fresh Pond was also a carry-over topic from the last meeting. The Land Trust had reached out to Water Superintendent John Breunig about having the pond tested for cyanobacteria. MacMullan said she had obtained some detail about the testing that the Water Company performs. “They can do testing but he didn’t think the cyanobacteria was an issue.”

Land Trust Vice Chair Denny Heinz said that he thought Fresh Pond looked cleaner than last year, when there were some algal blooms.

Clerk Heidi Tarbox told the Trustees that the Block Island Power Company had contacted her about tree trimming in late October and they wanted to talk with a representative of the Land Trust about it.

“Their plan for this year is pretty modest,” said Comings, who had talked to BIPCo about tree trimming on BIC properties, adding that the emphasis in the coming year would be from the power plant down to Bridgegate Square and then up along Corn Neck Road.

Hatfield was asked if he would meet with BIPCo to go over tree trimming at Land Trust properties. He suggested a meeting was unnecessary, saying “If there are trees on power lines, they need to be cut – and why waste time meeting with them?”

MacMullan told the group that chipped brush from the tree trimming would be placed on the corner lot of the power company’s property, making it available to the general public for free. “They’ve developed a five-year plan,” she said.

“There are a couple of major areas where trees are all over the place,” said Comings. 

In the end, MacMullan, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of BIPCo, volunteered to talk to BIPCo and Davey Tree, the company contracted to perform the work.