Town of Sutton Votes Down Democracy on Manchaug Pond!

“They didn’t vote for the people or the lake!” exclaimed a new MPA member.
“We’re asking them for our democratic right and they think their voting on owning a dam!” lamented a Sutton resident.

Tonight SUTTON Selectmen voted 4 to 1 DENYING Manchaug Pond residents their democratic right to formally assemble and vote on the proposed watershed district. The Selectmen’s vote is an effort to block the formation of a separate deliniation of the town whose mission would be the protection of the beautiful water resource of Manchaug Pond.

In a vote difficult to fathom and before a jam-packed room of Manchaug Pond supporters which overflowed into the hallway, the Board gave a laundry list of far-reaching reasons and unsupported fears for their inability to support the lake residents.

After denying the MPA an opportunity to answer the specific questions raised by each Selectman, the Chairman gave the MPA President Dave Schmidt, Attorney Walter Jabs, and Corresponding Secretary Phyllis Charpentier six minutes to outline changes made specifically for the town and to tell of the initiative’s importance to the lake’s water quality and preservation. The dozens and dozens of lake supporters/property owners were kept silent, told they should have spoken during the Public Forum and not during the formal slot on the agenda alloted for the MPA. An individual broke the silence asking for a show of hands demonstrating the overwhelming support for the MPA and the proposed district. Five individuals were counted as not raising their hand.

August of 2006, the MPA had began a year long effort to inform and educate the Town as to the issues and concerns before Manchaug Pond, to gain their support and involvement in a watershed district. Specifically, the concern that 27 problem areas around the lake had been identified as contributing high levels of bacteria and other nonpoint source pollution with the grant only addressing 7, the district would open doors and monies currently out of reach for the non profit association. The district would also address liability concerns and position the group to address possible future issues such as the waterlevel and the dam with methods of the 21st century.

In an attempt to open a door for the MPA, Chairman Kevin Geraghty made a motion to consider the MPA’s proposal in light of the changes made in the act to address the Board’s concerns but it did not have the votes to go anywhere. Selectman did comment that the uncommonly large turn out for their meeting demonstrated there was interest in the issue. But not one Selectman stated his recognition of the beautiful waters of Manchaug Pond and its contribution to the community, of his committment to the citizens, the businesses on the lake, or the environment, or of his desire to work with us for its future well-being.

Ironically, Manchaug Pond Association followed Waters Farm on the agenda, with MPA receiving the NO vote for the effort to further preserve and protect the lake after the Town gave the Farm a formal proclamation of congratulations for 250 years of history. As you know, Waters Farm was donated years ago to the town by former MPA board member and secretary Dorothea Waters Moran and the farm lies on the lake providing the “scenic views” so loved by farm visitors.

Very sad… it is easier to oppose something then try to understand it and work in partnership. As a lifelong Sutton resident, I would have loved to see my town shine as a champion for the lake.