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Lake Garfield Preservation District is fair, democratic

In his letter to the editor, Richard Jaffe of Monterey writes: The Lake Garfield Preservation District is not a government within a government. Its sole powers are restricted to collecting taxes voted on by the proprietors within that District.

To the Editor:

This letter is a response to Carol Edelman’s letter “Why she will be voting against Article 12,“An Act Establishing the Lake Garfield Preservation District in the town of Monterey.”

It is not undemocratic. The District is not a government within a government. Its sole powers are restricted to collecting taxes voted on by the proprietors within that District. If the Proprietors do not approve the proposed tax by democratic vote, then there is no tax. It can grant abatements to those who cannot afford to pay and can also levy liens on properties that do not pay the tax and are not granted abatements. The District cannot apply herbicides, chemicals, biological weed controls or do anything else that affects the Lake without going through the same strict regulatory process that any citizen or entity would have to.

It is not biased. Yes it is a fact that the lawyer who drafted the Act was engaged by the Friends of Lake Garfield. However, the Act is mostly a mirror of the Acts that established the Lake Buel Tax District, Goose Pond Tax District and other Great Ponds with Tax Districts throughout the Commonwealth. The need for such a district developed as it was apparent that the Town of Monterey had limited funds that it would allocate to the well-being of Lake Garfield. Yes, the Lake is probably populated mostly by second-home landowners who pay some of the highest taxes in town and have no say in how the Town is run or how tax dollars are spent.

It is not redundant. As stated above the Town has not been attentive to the lake until recently when it formed a work group to study lake health and other Lake related issues. This is a good plan but will need funding when they conclude what needs to be done. By forming the Lake Preservation District there will be an entity existing that can help fund those projects along with the town of Monterey

It is fair. First the Act is not automatic. What is being voted on Oct. 6 is a requirement by the Commonwealth before the Legislature can authorize the voting to proceed. If the vote Oct. 6 is positive and if the Legislature approves it, there has to be a meeting of all the affected proprietors that are currently in the Lake District. Fifty percent of those proprietors must be present either in person or by proxy to have a quorum and then it would need a 2/3 vote to pass. It is only fair to allow those who are mostly affected by the Lake Act to decide for themselves whether they want it or not. As stated before if the District is formed and a budget is approved by the proprietors and a tax is levied, those who feel it is a hardship can apply for abatement.

It is not wrong. There are over 200 properties affected by this Act. Some who have been on the lake for many decades and I know for a fact that the vast majority are deeply concerned for the health of all activity around the Lake whether it be flora, fauna or human enjoyment. They are mostly all proud of living in Monterey and strongly support all that is Monterey. To characterize these good citizens as elite is very hurtful, discriminatory and divisive. Furthermore, I am not sure what is meant by saying that “the general public may lawfully be excluded.” The District would have no authority whatsoever to exclude anyone from anything. If the intimation is that the general public cannot trespass on private property owned by lake abutters, then all private property everywhere must be owned by elite people.

I certainly agree with Carol that Lake Garfield is a wondrous treasure to be preserved for generations to come whether they are flora, fauna or human. Lake Garfield is a Great Pond that belongs to the people of the Commonwealth and although maintenance should be provided for by the state of Massachusetts, historically the state has not taken an active interest. It is up to the Town of Monterey and the Lake Garfield Preservation District to take the lead.

I urge you to read the Act and vote yes to allow the process to proceed

Richard Jaffe

Monterey

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