March 18, 2013 Special Town Meeting – VOTE!

on River Restoration Grant
7  pm Conway Grammar School

Flood Irene Nat'l Roots

ARTICLE 1: To see if the Town will vote to appropriate $100,000 from the Community Preservation
Fund Undesignated Fund Balance for the Town’s share of the South River
Restoration Project s.319 (RFR #2012-02) grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, or take any action thereto.
 Recommended by the Community Preservation Committee

Many thanks to the citizens of Conway! The vote passed by a healthy majority.

Conway has suffered significantly from flooding, major bank erosion and degraded habitat of the South River for many years. Roads, bridges, farm land, homes and wildlife have been damaged or are threatened. On our behalf, a state grant to a detailed study of the problems and their causes was awarded to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG). A Fluvial Geomorphic and Habitat Assessment of the South River Watershed was conducted by Field Geology Services.The Assessment found that

     “The South River watershed’s rich history of mills (more than 30) and associated river uses, including dam construction and extensive channel straightening, has left a continuing legacy of aggravated flood and erosion hazards, degraded aquatic habitat, and high sediment loading. As numerous mill dams have fallen into disrepair, large volumes of sediment are being released into the river as the channel incises through the former impoundments behind these old dams.”*

Recent repairs to roads and bridges have not always been successful as evidenced most dramatically by the collapse of the just completed retaining wall at the Main St. bridge during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Around the country, prior containment methods to armor banks with concrete or stone retaining walls and ripwrap are being replaced, where possible, with a proven, new approach recognizing that rivers require space and natural features to dissipate their formidable storm waters.

The Assessment provides detailed analysis of scientific findings along all 16 miles of the river divided into sections. Measureable conditions are compiled into a ranking system of hazards, along with potential remediation activities. With serious erosion and flooding threatening infrastructure, the Main Street area is the highest priority for restoration.South River Restoration Project s.319 (RFR #2012-02) has two components. It will reclaim a once active floodplain on the Town Field/Rose Property by lowering a .8 acre 1,400 feet stretch by just 2’. This will reduce flood flow, erosion and sediment both upstream and downstream. Further upstream three boulder weirs and four boulder deflectors will focus flow into the center of the channel or divert flow onto the lowered portion of the floodplain. Anchored logs will be placed at the base of the banks between the boulder structures to promote sediment deposition along the now actively eroding banks. The deflectors and weirs will also improve flow complexity that will lead to pool formation and improve aquatic habitat.

319 Grant Program for the South River in Conway
Awarded to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) in partnership with the Town

Federal Funds via MassDEP                               $    212,500
In-kind (state & town staff & volunteers)               41,666
Town Funds                                                                      100,000

Total Project Cost                                                        $354,166

The $100,000 in town funds are available in our Community Preservation Fund, which has a FY13 balance of approximately $367,000.  The work complies with Community Preservation Fund allowable spending purposes for Open Space (G.L. c. 44B sect. 5).

After review and discussion, the project was recently recommended by Planning Board. It was also endorsed by the Selectboard when the grant application was submitted last spring. We are fortunate to have been awarded this very competitive grant.

Read about the River Restoration Project.