The Conservation Commission heard a presentation on a proposed trail and continued a hearing related to conserved land.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Conservation Commission has decided to open a dialogue with the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation about creating a new hiking trail in the northwest part of town.
The commission voted unanimously Thursday to work with the private non-profit on creating a link between WRLF's Sheep Hill property and Williams College's Hopkins Forest.
The most logical route for such a hike would go through one of the town-owned properties under the care, custody and control of the Con Comm.
"They have a trail they're considering," Con Comm Chairman Philip McKnight said. "They want to know if we'd be willing to work with them, using the Hunter property."
Resident Robert Hatton of Potter road attended Thursday meeting and offered his advice on how the trail best could be laid out. McKnight told Hatton he would be pressed into service once serious discussions began with WRLF, likely when foundation director Dustin Griffin is available to serve on a committee to look at the project.
The commission also made plans to discuss the Hunter lot and all of the properties under its control over the next few months.
Spurred by the recent debate about developing affordable housing on the town-owned Lowry and Burbank properties and the uncertainty over the protection status of those sites under Massachusetts law, the Con Comm wants to review its entire inventory — from tiny Bloedel Park at the Five Corners to the expansive Burbank property.
In the meantime, the commission is not suspending its efforts to get clarity on the Lowry and Burbank questions. The Con Comm decided not to close its hearing on the properties, even though the Board of Selectmen has withdrawn the request that prompted those proceedings.
And Commissioner Hank Art is continuing to serve as the Con Comm's liaison to the state attorney general's office. The Con Comm last winter asked the AG whether Article 97 of the state Constitution applies to either Lowry or Burbank
On yet another Conservation Commission property, Margaret Lindley Park, there was good news to report on Thursday. Town Conservation Agent Andrew Groff told the commission that the contractor struck an aquifer on its first try in the town's effort to resupply potable water to the bath house at the park.
A. Carlos Correa addresses the Conservation Commission about his property on Cobbleview Drive.
Town meeting in May approved funding to drill a new well, and McKnight and the commission have been eagerly awaiting the fruition of the project. Although it is too late to turn on the water for the 2013 swimming season that ended Labor Day weekend, the successful well drilling means the park could be fully operational on opening day next year.
And since multiple tries were not needed to strike water, "We should have some funds available to spruce up the bath house," McKnight said.
The Con Comm held just one public hearing on Thursday evening, and after a lengthy discussion with the homeowner and two abutters, the panel approved the adjustment of a berm on north edge of a brook at 61 Cobbleview Road.
Applicant A. Carlos Correa explained that spring flooding led to a situation where water was not properly draining into a culvert he maintains but rather pooling on a neighboring property.
"When we cleaned up the mess after May 29, one of the things [the contractor] did was scrape up mud on the property adjacent," Correa said. "I asked them to dig it up, and when they did, they created a hole."