Alna selectmen

Alna alewife rights draw discussion

Hagar confirmed for plowing; selectmen mull ‘beaver deceiver’
Posted:  Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 8:15am

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, Dave Sutter maintained June 7 about Alna’s longtime setup for alewife rights. Sutter has had the town’s rights under contract for three decades; selectmen and meeting attendees talked about the bounds of those rights after resident Chris Kenoyer suggested rights for residents would add to interest in, and appreciation for, the fish and the Sheepscot River.

He said people are starting to realize alewives are more than a bait fish — they feed haddock, pollock, cod, eagles and ospreys, “and everybody seems to like eagles and ospreys. And (alewives feed) minks and otters.” Visiting Damariscotta Mills, he’s seen the growing interest among fishermen and others, Kenoyer said. “And I just think if people in town could catch them, it will bring people closer to the river, and that to me is a good thing. It means they’ll take better care of it.”

Sutter said anytime someone has asked to take some alewives to eat, he has let them or even provided the fish to the person.

He just doesn’t want people to kill the fish for the fun of it, Sutter said. He predicted adding residents’ rights would be an “enforcement nightmare,” because he didn’t think the state would enforce a local rule. However, he agreed with selectmen it was something they could discuss when his next contract is drafted.

“It may be a non-problem we don’t need to correct,” First Selectman David Abbott said.

Kenoyer said he was all set for any harvesting because he had Sutter’s OK. He had done it to try it, he said, calling alewives an acquired taste he has not quite acquired. After reading state law and speaking with Maine Department of Marine Resources staff, he understood he could take up to 25 a day if the contract allowed it. He said he was surprised to learn the town’s alewives contract impacted residents’ rights. “It just seems odd to me that we as members of this town and (who) hold a license can’t go home with a few (alewives).”

Also June 7, the board awarded Hagar Enterprises another three years of plowing. Abbott said co-owner Seth Hagar told him he will give the town a break on the bid price in return for the board waiving a performance bond. A delay Hagar gives the town in making payments at the start of the season acts as a bond, in that the town won’t pay if the roads aren’t plowed, Abbott said.

Abbott said Hagar did not yet have the lower figure that will go into the contract. The bid the board reviewed May 24 was $197,971 for year one, $199,950 for year two and $201,950 for year three. No one else bid. Third Selectman Doug Baston, on Abbott’s cell phone set to speaker again June 7, voted with Abbott and Second Selectman Melissa Spinney in favor of keeping the firm. Members again praised the job Hagar did in its first three years with the town. As for Baston’s recent idea for a possible interlocal plan involving Newcastle, Abbott said Hagar said shared routes and sand use wouldn’t make a difference.

Selectmen discussed possibly spending $2,500 for a device to deter beavers’ activities they said can contribute to flooding. The alternative of cleaning out a culvert costs $400 each time, Spinney said. “So that’s making the beaver deceiver seem less expensive,” she said. The topic stemmed from resident Chris Cooper’s recent emails about road flooding due to plugged culverts near Trout Brook.

The emails attribute the plugging to beavers Cooper said had moved upstream from Lothrop Road. However, Abbott and Kenoyer said they had looked at  the debris and not seen the fresh marks they would have expected from beavers. Selectmen planned to further look into their options.

They said they have a verbal agreement but no contract yet with John E. O’Donnell & Associates of New Gloucester to do the revaluation for an estimated cost of up to $58,000. Abbott said the details will be worked out around September when the firm, which is also Alna’s assessing firm, comes to help with the tax commitment.

The board meets next at 6 p.m. June 21 at the town office.