PERU – A large crowd turned out Monday night for a public hearing on the proposed Worthley Pond boat ramp.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Bill Hine chaired the meeting at the Rockemeka Grange Hall. He said residents could ask questions, but it was not an opportunity for speeches for or against the project. Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Chief Planner Leon Bucher coordinated the response from state officials.
Hine said the principal questions residents have posed to the board are, does the site require a more thorough environmental review than that provided by the “permit by rule” process, and what will be the future cost to Peru.
The association of Worthley Pond residents has objected to the placement of a public boat ramp on the pond. Objections included environmental damage due to the installation and use of the ramp, more exposure of the pond to invasive milfoil, and more boat traffic in areas used by swimmers.
Bucher said the department has a mandate “statewide to provide guaranteed public access to public waters.” He said Worthley Pond is high on their priority list because of the fishing quality in the lake and the potential for future improvement in fishing quality.
The department will not continue to stock fish in any waters that do not have adequate public access.
Bucher admitted that the proposed site was not ideal since all of the best sites were privately owned. However, he said, this site is adequate for launching the size and type of boats commonly used on Worthley Pond.
Richard Baker of the Department of Environmental Protection addressed the environmental permitting issue. Boat ramps are one of the specific uses the Legislature said could use the Permit by Rule process. While there is no formal request for public input on these permits, he said any comments received would be considered.
He said once a formal application is received, the department has 14 days to respond. Only if the project does not meet DEP standards, has potential for major damage or impacts an especially sensitive site, can they reject the Permit by Rule request and demand a full environmental review.
Baker pointed out that due to the design of the facility it has less potential for adding phosphates to the lake than would a house built on the same site. A retention pond catches and treats the first flush of water from the site to prevent washing pollution from the paved areas into the lake.
Bucher said his department is not asking for any money from the town for installation or maintenance of the ramp. Some towns pay to provide a portable toilet, trash disposal, or other features not included in the base project. The project is designed to have a 25-year life before major maintenance is required.