November 4, 2015
The meeting was called to order by Ken Evans at noon on November 4, 2015 in the offices of RMI. Our continued thanks to Shelagh Connelly for allowing us to use her conference room. With a location so close to Livermore Falls, this is a very convenient meeting place for us. A light lunch was served while we met to discuss the agenda that was distributed just prior to the meeting time.
During our previous meeting on September 17, we spent time talking about the results of our summer events and greeter programs. We also discussed the State’s activities during the summer and the issues we both faced. The Friends decided to spend the winter months to address improvements in our service to the Park and committed to continue or even increase our volunteer efforts in working with the State.
For this meeting, we decided to devote significant time to a discussion of the State’s activities on both sides of the river. We were fortunate to have Ben Wilson and Director Bryce in attendance as well as Patrick Hummel, our volunteer coordinator.
The parking lot plans are in place and the State will look for a contractor to begin work as soon after the new-year as possible. Hopefully, we can have the trees cleared so that construction can begin soon after the snow melts and the ground is dry. While we have spent significant time with the neighbors in discussing the parking lot plans and are now on our fifth (and final) design, Director Bryce would like to meet with the community one more time to present the timing and impact of construction. We would open the conversation to Town government officials as well as the entire Friends group. The idea will be to have an on-site review before the end of December.
The Cultural Landscape report is nearing completion with a draft being reviewed by Ben and others in DRED. Ben indicated that the final hold-up with the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) is whether or not to identify the locations of historic buildings by the river in Holderness. The issue is that DHR believes that the State owns these building remains and anything that they may contain so they do not want to have people pilfering artifacts of any kind. The Friends noted that our plans for both sides of the river include an emphasis on the educational and historic aspects of these locations so it is very important that we try to align our interests with those of DHR. In that regard, we asked Ben Wilson to arrange for Elizabeth Muzzey, Director of DHR, to speak to us about its plans at our next Friends meeting.
We next turned our attention to the Campton side of the river. Ben Wilson reported that there had been internal discussions about what to do with the west side of the river. He recently held a site visit attended by Elizabeth Muzzey and others from DHR and the decision was made to proceed to develop this location as an important historical site. He also informed us that the engineering consultant rfp that had gone out a year or so ago did not result in any acceptable bidders so that he is in the process of narrowing the scope of the study to include only whether the dam structure is secure enough for the safety of visitors to view the Falls. It will not include any necessary improvements that would be required to maintain the mill ruins (from falling down) or what might happen to the Falls if the water continues to be diverted through the mill structure instead of through its existing path. At this point, the subject of replacing the mill barrier (to divert the water around the mill) and keeping the ability of visitors to visit the river bank was discussed. Ben Wilson again informed us that DES would not allow the river to be dammed in this way and he also does not have the kind of budget required if an attendant is necessary to oversee this location. The group requested a visit at our next meeting from the Commissioner of DES to explain their views on this subject, to align our mutual interests and to forecast for us what will happen to the present scenic value of the Falls, and to the historic value of the mill if the river changes it course. Director Bryce supported these visits and asked Ben to arrange.
The good news from this discussion is that the State is preparing to address the Campton side of the river. The less good news is that there are still a lot of decisions to be made and that it will still take some time. Nevertheless, the group was encouraged that we are finally moving forward. We were also informed that now Bill Carpenter has a green light to begin discussions about a parking lot on this side of the river.
Finally, Director Bryce indicated that it might be a good time to draw Executive Counselor, Kenney into our group so that he is kept in the loop about our activities. We know that Senator Forrester has been a strong supporter of Livermore Falls and we need to continue to keep her updated as well.
Larry Spencer, environmental committee, noted that the annual watershed conference is interested in Friends as a presenter. Applications for presentations are due in the first week in January. Ken Evans will take a first crack at the application with assistance from Larry. Also, Larry volunteered to summarize our greeter sheets for use in planning next year and in providing the State with information about visitors and their activities last summer.
Tink Taylor and Omer Ahern have been working on ownership questions surrounding the bridge. We should have more to report at our next meeting.
Kathy Kearns and Ken Evans need to refresh on our website activities and verify that Walter’s daughter has enough content to improve the site. We also had the idea about including a pen pal link to be able to accept contributions for Livermore Falls on the website.
Our next meeting will be scheduled based on the availability of our State folks so watch for an email to go out shortly.