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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes of Meetings in 2022


January February March
April May June
July: No Meeting August: Picnic Meeting September
October November December

The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for January 11, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday February 8, 2022  at 7:15

This was a Zoom only meeting due to the Omicron Covid surge. Present: John Mordes, Jay Werb, Ellen Katz, Jennie Moonan, Audrey Wallace, Robin Dexter, Maureen Riley Meagher, Jean Fisher, Lee Fisher, Bill Humphrey, Lon Ross, Vaunita Schnell, Loumona Petroff, Rena Getz, Evan Weststrate, Sheila Purdy
 
CRWA Presentation: The first meeting for 2022 began with a presentation by 2 guests from the Charles River Watershed Association: Jennie Moonan and Audrey Wallace. Jennie is the director  of the stormwater program and an environmental engineer. Audrey is the director of development and membership. CWRA serves 35 communities and was founded in 1965 to restore and enhance the river after decades of being used as a trash dump and waste disposal site. The organization is extensive and addresses many aspects of the river’s uses including: water quality, flooding risks, environmental effects of dumping and runoff, landscaping , recreational use, and educational opportunity. Mitigation efforts include outreach, hydrology, use of local volunteers, water quality monitoring, rain gardens, and advocacy.
 
The volunteer projects are extensive and involve both technical and hands-on work. Projects  can include pulling invasive plants, cleanup days, water monitoring, and planning various gatherings and parties. They have a budget of 1.5 million dollars including $850, 000 from donations. They have an online newsletter, The River Current, which is available through their website.
 
The Friends followed the excellent and comprehensive presentation with numerous questions about  ARC maps, integrated activities, special projects, recreational fishing, swimming  the Cordingly Dam fish ladder, and hydrology methods of regulating the height of the river. The guests were invited to return for follow-up on many of these issues.
 
Treasurer’s Report: Robin stated that the balance is now up $1,000 from last year and stands at $7,242. 35. Kudos to Evan for making the posters available to members and donors. The filings for state and federal tax exempt status have been filed. The Friends approved expenditures for improved audio equipment for hybrid meetings and a portable tent shelter for outdoor visibility events. This purchase will include signage and pole stabilizers. Robin will provide a check to pay for the Friend’s P.O. box for next year.
 
Update From Erica:  Erica did not attend the meeting, but the Friends approved expenditures for metal backrests to be attached to the rustic benches that will be built and placed in the
 
December Meeting: the meeting was held at the Osborne house and included the much anticipated festive year-end party as well as the elections of officers and board members for 2022. There were a few changes from 2021. The election results were as follows:  
 
FoHG Officers for 2022:
President: John Mordes; Vice President: Evan Weststrate; Treasurer: Robin Dexter; Secretary: Sheila Purdy
 
FoHG Board Members 2022:
Bill Humphrey, Chris Osborne, Vaunita Schnell, Rena Getz, John Mordes, Evan Weststrate, and Robin Dexter.
 
Updates: There are no current updates on the crosswalks, Stone Building Foundation, or website improvements.  If weather permits, an ice skating event will be planned for the pond during the winter. John is still monitoring the status of Covid infections to make a decision about where the February meeting will take place and what precautions should remain.
 
Goals for 2022: Because of the extensive agenda of this first meeting of the year, the planning of future goals has been tabled until February.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for February 8, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday March 1, 2022 at 7:15.

Present: Robin Dexter, Jeff Eisen, John Mordes, Vaunita Schnell, Jean Fisher, James Janosky, Lee Fisher, Chris Osborne, Rena Getz, Paul Roberts, Don Ross, Bob Burke, Bill Humphrey, Evan Weststrate, Betsy Hewitt, Loumona Petroff, Sheila Purdy

Treasurer’s Report: Robin reported an account balance of $7,241 with no new expenses. Evan was reimbursed for his expenses in preparing and mailing the posters. John purchased a microphone for the new hybrid meetings. Costs of renewing the 501(c) 3 status have been paid for the rest of this year. The purchase of a shelter for visibility events is still being explored.

Venue for Upcoming Meetings: A hybrid meeting has been planned for the March meeting at the Waban Library/Community Center. The first Tuesday has been safely reserved but thereis a conflict involved in moving the meeting to the 2nd Tuesday. Rena noted that this date was not always available. The Friends discussed the possibility of moving the date to the third of fourthTuesday. It was decided to keep the March 1st date due to the many assets of the Waban site and its capacity for hybrid meetings. Any subsequent changes could be discussed at future  meetings.

Chartering a Boy Scout Troup: Jeff Eisen and Janosky represented BSA Troop 205 and presented the details of a charter agreement for The Friends to officially sponsor the troop for  the upcoming year. They summarized the history of the troop and described the current situation requiring a new sponsor and charter agreement. The chartering organization is “usually a non-profit” and they need to get a formal agreement by the end of February. The presenters went over the benefits and responsibilities of the chartering sponsor and answered questions which included liability and benefits to the Friends. A significant number of the Friends had been involved with BSA over many years. Paul Roberts volunteered to be the liaison between the Friends and the BSA. The sponsoring commitment is only for one year and can be renewed or cancelled at the end of this period. The Friends acknowledged the many positive aspects of this arrangements. Don Ross volunteered to be the backup liaison to Paul to insure that the Friends would have an experienced person to fill that role. John noted that there was a quorum of Board members to be able to vote on this proposal. The proposal to charter BSA Troop 205 was approved by vote of the Board members.

Updates from Erica: Erica was not at meeting. Updates will be provided at future meeting. A meeting with Ruth Balser is planned to address the crosswalk issue.

Ice Skating on the Pond: The weather this winter allowed for favorable conditions to permit safe skating on the pond. Evan and Lee quickly planned the event and notified people of the opportunity.  Lee noted that most of the attendees were there to watch the event and socialize rather than skate. He noted that Troop 205 could be added to the mailing list for future events.

Future Projects: John noted that the CRWA representatives were available to attend the meeting in March to continue the previous discussion of a number of issues. CRWA has designated April 23rd as its date to schedule the annual Charles River cleanup. The Friends will decide whether to coordinate their spring cleanup for the same date.

The Friends discussed the possibility of formal guided walks through the park to explore the natural history and its role in the evolution of the neighborhood. John suggested that walks could also be made available to children from the city or Metco students from neighboring

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for March 1, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday April 5, 2022 at 7:15

Present: Robert Kearns, Emily Gelbert, Robin Dexter, Betsy Hewitt, Bill Humphrey, Bob Burke, John Mordes, Evan Weststrate, Paul Roberts, Vaunita Schnell, Rena Getz, Loumona Petroff and Sheila Purdy
 
Announcements: The Spring Cleanup  has been scheduled for April 23rd to coordinate with the CRWA cleanup and Earth Day.  The Friends will continue to publicize the event in local media. Rena said that the first Monday of each month is available at the Waban Library Community Center to host ongoing hybrid Friends’ meetings. The charter with Boy Scout Troop 205 has been signed for the upcoming year.
 
Treasurer’s Report: Robin announced a new donation following the formalization of the Friends’ sponsorship of the Scout Troop. It was provided by a parent involved in the troop.
 
Guest Speaker: John introduced Robert Kearns, climate resilience specialist from CRWA. He addressed the recreational issues brought up at the prior meeting with CWRA. These were Identified as fishing and swimming. There were also questions about the dams on the river.
 
The speaker stated that swimming has been prohibited since the 1950’s and is only permitted at state sponsored events. This is due to water quality and safety issues. Water quality has improved since the 1950’s and is constantly monitored and tested. Quality changes after
storms because of runoff and cyanobacteria blooms. The yellow foam that occurs on the river is natural and “innocuous”.
 
Fish that live in the river include: alewife, shad, and blue herring. Fish travelling upstream cannot navigate the dams. While some dams have fish ladders to assist them, the circular dam does not. There has been ongoing discussion at many levels about removing some of the dams
to permit fish to migrate naturally. Apparently, the American eel can “climb over” dams and can travel as far as Milford.  There is an advisory on the safety of freshwater fish and contamination with PCB.  Currently no signs are in place to warn against fishing. There is no current action to extend the fish ladder system. Betsy pointed out that the fish ladder at Lower Falls was in poor condition.  
 
There is currently a low number of river herring. Indigenous people are allowed to fish the river, but there are also incidents of eel poaching. An effort was made to reintroduce shad to the system, but the salmon are “all gone”.
 
Bill asked about efforts to develop green infrastructure to enhance water quality. The speaker suggested planting more mature trees. Because the Friends had additional questions and comments, the speaker agreed to return at a future meeting.
 
Updates on  Ongoing Issues: There are no updates from Erica. John is communicating with Ruth Balser about the Stone Building foundation. There is no news at this time.
 
DCR and DOT are looking into the connection between the Gorge and Quinobequin. John got a  draft of the plans from DOT. A gap is needed in the guard rail to allow for a safe crossing. A number of concerns were raised about this crossing. Some suggestions were: narrowing the ramp, installing a flashing red light, and installing a speed bump.  At a second crossing at Ellis Street, sightlines are also a safety problem. Improvements could include “Abbey Road” raised crosswalks. John said it was difficult to get  official  safety statistics about these 2 crossings.
 
The Friends discussed a number of projects for future coordination with the Scout Troop. Emily needs help to maintain the stairway and echo platform. The rustic benches will need to be varnished once they arrive and the hardware installed. Vaunita said that the existing trails also need to be restored.

More material could be provided to identify and warn about poison ivy.
 
John also raised the issue of hosting Metco students at the park.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for April 5, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday May 3, 2022 at 7:15

Present: John Mordes, Rena Getz, Loumona Petroff, Paul Roberts, Don Ross, Bill Humphrey, Robin Dexter, Emily Gelbert, Sheila Purdy
 
Treasurer’s Report: Funds were spent on a new speaker system for meetings and for the popup shelters to be used at visibility events. The tents will be delivered today.
 
Other Announcements: The previous roof repair at the stone barn resulted in numerous historical  artifacts. John spoke with Rob MacArthur who was the liaison with DCR at the time. The artifacts included a mortar sample which could be dated to determine the exact date of the
stone barn. The stone barn could possibly be the oldest building on DCR land and date back to 1790-1800. John will speak to the DCR archeologist to follow up on the sample. Rob will be retiring from his present position and may be able to provide additional information to us..
 
Hemlock Gorge Cleanup: The cleanup has been scheduled on April 23rd rain or shine. Jeff Lin from Tzu Chi has been in touch to offer volunteers and lunches. Tzu Chi is very careful about not using any products that are not recyclable. They will bring their own utensils. There will also be a large contingent from the Scout troop. John reminded everyone that volunteers needed to fill out a release form for DCR before starting the cleanup. DCR will provide trash bags and gloves.
 
State of the Park: Robin, Evan, and John took a tour of the park and made a list of needed trail improvements. There was not a lot of trash on the trails, but trash was clearly evident near the church across from Hamilton Place. There is also trash along the Quinobequin trail. The echo platform has been maintained and is looking “pretty good”. The foundation of the stone barn continues to be concerning. It is bulging out and needs to be carefully examined. There is no longer a forester at DCR, and the trees are showing a lot of damage from scale. Adelgids are not as numerous as in the past, but a lot of hemlock trees are bare. Insecticide sprays cannot be used near water to address the current and future insect infestations. An arborist would need to make suggestions about how to manage this ongoing problem. Erica was not present at the meeting for an update on current projects-the rustic benches and the 2nd floor of the barn.
 
Earth Day: Green Newton is sponsoring a festival for Earth Day on April 24th from 1-4 PM. There  will be a number of demonstrations including electric cars.  The Friends can sponsor a table to provide information where people can sign up for the Friends get a poster of the park. There is no fee to sponsor a table. Volunteers are needed to staff the table and set up the display. John is available that day. Don could coordinate the event.
 
Future Projects: The celebration of the new barn roof was originally delayed due to the pandemic.    It could be scheduled for the summer with a plan to formally thank Ruth Balser and Amy Mah Sangiolo  for all  their assistance and advocacy for the stone barn and other Friends’ projects.
 
With help from the Scouts, the trails can be maintained and improved with newly refurbished trail markers.  Erica has already approved this effort. The echo platform could be repainted
 
In previous years, there were formal tours of the park led by site supervisors from DCR. Is there any of this material still available to restart the program with volunteer-led tours? Rob will try to locate any previous tour guides. John also raised the suggestion that guided tours could also include tours for kids, including inner city kids.
 
No guest speakers have been scheduled, but Jason Lupien could attend to offer suggestions on the health of the trees and the state of invasive plants in the park.
 
The Newton Conservation Commission has refused to grant a Certificate of Compliance following the  repair of Cook’s Bridge because the small part of the Park next to the Mills Falls shopping center has not been finished to specifications. A representative would like the Friends to get involved in this issue. Rena will look into this further to see if there is a need to coordinate efforts.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for May x, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday June x, 2022 at 7:15

To be continued

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for June and August, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday September x, 2022 at 7:15

To be continued

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for September x, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday October x, 2022 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for October x, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday November x, 2022 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for November x, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday December x, 2022 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for December x, 2022

Next Meeting: Tuesday, January x, 2023 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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