Otisfield seeks engineer's opinion on road drainage

OTISFIELD — The Board of Selectmen has agreed to ask an engineer to survey the erosion problems on Cobb Hill Road to resolve drainage problems affecting the water quality of Thompson Lake.

File photo by Leslie H. Dixon

Despite remedial work, Cobb Hill Road continues to be plagued with erosion problems that threaten the water quality of Lake Thompson, officials say.

Ross Cudlitz of Engineering Assistance & Design in Yarmouth will be asked to look at the road, which runs between Route 121 and Scribner Hill Road. 

Cudlitz also serves as district engineer with the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District. The agency offers technical assistance on issues involving water quality, land use and erosion.

He has been involved in local projects such as the Robinson Mill dam safety and problems on Shore Road in Otisfield. In 2007, Cudlitz did the design for the improvements on Shore Road and Park Way after that road washed out in spring storms and sent sediment into Thompson Lake.

“I'd really like to put my trust in an engineer with this,” Selectmen Rick Micklon said. He suggested the board ask Cudlitz for a courtesy site visit and that he come back to the board with a proposal to fix the problem.

The recommendation came on the heels of a request by town Conservation Commission Chairman Jeff Stern last month to form a study group on how to resolve the drainage problems.

The request was denied because selectmen said the Conservation Commission is not chartered to create its own subcommittee and only Road Commissioner Richard Bean has the authority to say what happens on Otisfield roads.

Selectman Len Adler, who rejected Stern's request, said he supported Micklon's recommendation because “it's a professional opinion.”

A 2010 grant program through the Thompson Lake Environmental Association to help control erosion from sites, including Cobb Hill Road, into the lake was considered successful, preventing an estimated 52 tons of soil from entering the lake at various sites.

Although Stern told selectmen he agreed some progress has been made after the installation of three culverts, damage from continuing major storms has left the situation unresolved.


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 's picture

Selectman - "It's a professional opinion..."

I truly resent Selectman Lenny Adler's comment here about the engineer offering "a professional opinion!" My husband, Jeff Stern, has not only gone to college and yearly educational conferences regarding this - he has spent his life since college doing this type of work all across the country and is very well respected by the DEP and local Soil & Water Conservation agencies. As far as the Otisfield Conservation Committee is concerned it asked to bring someone in to educate the selectman and road commissioner on the Cobb's Hill Road issue and they basically laughed in Jeff's face, saying they have no control over what the Road Commissioner chooses to do and how he does it. I disagree - they cut the checks to the road commissioner! And if they have no authority, certainly the towns people do as he is an elected official just like the selectmen are. If you've been following the Otisfield Selectmen Meetings, and the LSJ articles, you'de know most of this yourself. The town accepted, in good faith, grant monies to prevent erosion from the Cobb's Hill Rd into Thompson Lake and Jeff has been trying to point out that the work done is being reversed due to the road commissioner and selectman choosing not to listen to Jeff Stern's opinion or recommendations. The OCC asked the selectman if they could form a subcommittee hoping that a group of citizens could get the Board of Selectmen to listen to them. Seems like one of the selectman can't make up his mind to support the efforts of Jeff as an environmental scientist or not!


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