Lake Garfield's milfoil problem top priority under Monterey plan

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MONTEREY — The town of Monterey has a plan for Lake Garfield, and the health of the lake is first on the list.

The town is forming a working group to handle the details for this summer and beyond.

The Lake Garfield Town Working Group will focus on three main points — lake health, lake safety, and lake accessibility. Each point will be managed individually and by separate working groups.

Richard Jaffe and Hy Rosen of the Friends of Lake Garfield recently presented a mission statement to the Select Board. The two men said that the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil has become a serious issue.

"Go out on a boat ride," Rosen told the board. "Out beyond the narrows."

"I've never seen it this bad," Jaffe added.

Because of the immediate need to fix the health of the lake, the first order of business is to establish a lake health working group.

The Select Board discussed the makeup of the lake health group before approval of the mission statement, adding two members from town government.

Board member Steven Weisz said he supported the idea of putting a member of the Conservation Commission in the group, but the commission has said it is not certain whether that could present a conflict of interest.

Select Board Chairman Kenneth Basler added that the workload might be asking too much.

"The Conservation Commission is all volunteers," he said. "It's a great amount of responsibility and paperwork. Getting involved in something else is a lot."

"Let's wait until the member most eager to join is back from vacation," Weisz said.

The board also approved the inclusion of a member of the town's Parks Department.

"The town beach is a part of the park, I think it's very reasonable," said board member Carol Edelman.

The lake health working group will consist of one Select Board member, one member of the Conservation Commission, one member of the Board of Health, one representative from the Parks Department, two members of the Friends of Lake Garfield, and four at large residents.

The group will handle a number of issues affecting the well-being of the lake, particularly focusing on invasive species and contaminants. The group will identify and put into place regulations to handle the disruption and injury to the lake, and develop strategies to reverse the damage already done to the watershed.

The group also is charged with keeping the public and town government informed on its work and to work with the town to enforce regulations. The milfoil has been an exceptional nuisance this year, Rosen said.

"It's too bad we can't cook it and eat it," Rosen said wryly.

The Select Board unanimously approved the mission. Jaffe and Rosen hope to have the working group formed and working by the end of August.

The hope is to have a handle on the watermilfoil by the fall and for next summer.

The sooner they can get the lake health taken care of, Jaffe and Rosen said, the sooner they can tackle lake safety and accessibility.


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