OTISFIELD – Francis Brautigan of Maine’s Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife presented information to selectmen Wednesday night on a proposed partnership between the town and the state to increase access to Saturday Pond.
“IFW has a mission to develop public access to public waters,” he said, “and the property has the potential to address state needs.”
The property was deeded to the town by the late Sam Jaakkola, and the road that leads into it is named Sam’s Landing.
The town is considering a partnership in which the state would provide money and technical assistance to help improve access to the pond, and in return the state would impose certain conditions on the project. Specifically, the state is predisposed to develop trailer boat access at the landing, a proposal that has some residents worried.
“Will the state help protect property and manage milfoil risk if we partner with you?” asked Jim Howard, one of 30 residents at the meeting.
Brautigan said the state has an education and outreach program to minimize milfoil spread, and the state would also provide staff for occasional inspections. “But I don’t think you’ll see much impact. The size of the pond along with the minimal parking won’t accommodate too many people.”
Another resident said they don’t believe there won’t be an impact and asked why it should be opened up.
“There’s less than 10 percent public access to local public waters. Do you think 10 percent is good enough? I don’t,” Brautigan said.
The state has the right to purchase property on the pond and develop public access whether or not the town partners with it, “but it is to our benefit to work with the town at a site that already exists,” Brautigan said.
“We’re also interested in fishery enhancement,” he added, explaining that the pond could be stocked with brook trout in the fall for winter and spring angling.
Also discussed at the meeting were the tax status of the Volunteer Firefighters Association, a proposed partnership between the town and the historical society to preserve the Old Town House, and review of the town meeting warrant.
The next selectmen’s meeting is at 7:30 p.m. June 7 at the Otisfield Town Office.