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Keep Lake Mansfield Road open: Here’s how

By Sunday, Oct 20, 2019 Letters 2

To the editor:

What might it look like if we keep Lake Mansfield Road open? Well, for one thing it would satisfy the 70 percent of the respondents to the LMITF (Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force) survey. That’s correct! According to the report issued by the LMITF, after their 10 years of study and community involvement, in each of the three surveys conducted 70 percent of the respondents said they want to keep Lake Mansfield Road OPEN. In fact, in the final survey – after all the meetings and information presented to those who were interested – nearly 50 percent said they wanted it kept open to TWO-WAY traffic! The LMITF continues to state that they solicited community input, which they did; they just fail to mention what that input indicated.

So, what happens if the town lays down the “thick” layer of pavement that the DPW has stated is critical to maintaining the roadway in any scenario? Well, according to the engineering study, presented in the LMITF report, the engineers say it will last between 5 to 7 years or more. The task force decided to state the durability at “about 3 to 5 years or less” – often saying “maybe 3 years” – as it seems they believe they are more knowledgeable than the engineers.

One may ask, ‘What about the health of the lake?”; “What about traffic on the road?”; “What about pedestrians, bicyclists, and people who wish to fish?” Others may ask, “What about the right to use the road?”; “What about emergency services?”; “Why close the road at all?”

I have proposed a simple and cost-effective solution at multiple Selectboard meetings. It has not been met with additional questions, nor objections…mostly, silence (one SB member did ask a few questions of me recently).

My suggestion is this:

Utilize a technology such as Technopost ®, or similar, to construct a boardwalk from the beach to the boat ramp along the edge of the lake. Combined with the thick layer of pavement and bank stabilization techniques this solves the answer to every issue raised. There is essentially no negative impact to the lake (Technoposts ® are installed in winter through the ice and produce only a small plume of dirt at their entry point at the bottom of the lake). In fact, through this technique the ecosystem of the lake will be enhanced. By providing road stabilization in this manner there is a reduced use of salt in the winter. Bank stabilization prevents erosion into the lake. And, the bank stabilization and boardwalk improve the habitat for the fish and amphibians found in the lake.

The overall cost of this methodology will likely be much less expensive than that proposed by the LMITF, while at the same time addressing ALL the needs of the community:

There will be ample walking/running, biking, and fishing off the boardwalk. There will also be ample stability for two-way traffic to continue on Lake Mansfield Road through its entire length.

Some on the task force have said, “We looked at piers and boardwalks.” This, however, is a disingenuous response. The task force looked at smaller boardwalks (not using Technoposts) quickly dismissing them for fear of vandalism, and fear of unknown permitting costs. LMITF chose not to even include them in their surveys. Had either the solution I am suggesting or the boardwalks they looked at, likely even more than the 70 percent of respondents would have said, “Keep the road OPEN’.

Please let the Selectboard know what you think about this, or the residents on “the Hill” will decide for you (most of members of the LMITF live within walking distance on “the Hill”, as do the two SB members who have been pushing to close the road).

Steve Farina

Great Barrington