Pond not causing damage
The following commentary was written by Michael J. Messier with and on behalf of the Save Combination Pond Group.
Combination Pond is part of the stormwater runoff sediment solution, not the problem. It will cost nothing to leave the pond as it is. We respectfully request the City of Rutland and State of Vermont rescind the agreement to remove Combination Pond. The city and state did not include and provide notice to all “interested persons,” due process (in open meetings, not executive sessions). They did not mitigate damages to property owners (there are six lower cost alternatives not to remove the pond), and will have taken property without due process (under eminent domain).
The costs to taxpayers is zero to leave Combination Pond as it is, per city and state consultants who were paid for by taxpayers.
What’s next? Drain Piedmont Pond, Lakes Bomoseen, Dunmore or Champlain? These bodies of water are part of the Champlain watershed, too. The city stated that the water in Combination Pond is too warm, which they believe is the cause of the pollution in the Moon Brook watershed. However, Lake Champlain has the same temperature profiles as Combination Pond.
The city states that warm water from Combination Pond is causing brook trout deaths in Moon Brook. There is no evidence of trout deaths or autopsies of dead brook trout in or around Combination Pond. (City of Rutland meeting minutes, dated Jan. 7, 2013; Rutland Herald, Article published Jan. 14, 2013, City Hall Reporter’s Notebook.)
The city also states that the bug population, specifically stoneflies, is being reduced by warm water. These bugs were studied just a few times during their two least active months, September and October. The state sprayed to minimize the mosquito population, which may have reduced the bug population as well.
State of Vermont statute states that there shall be “no change from the reference condition that would prevent the full support of aquatic biota, wildlife, or aquatic habitat uses. Biological integrity is maintained, and all expected functional groups are present in a high-quality habitat. All life cycle functions, including overwintering and reproductive requirements, are maintained and produced.”
Combination Pond is an evidenced home to aquatic biota, wildlife, aquatic habitat, including, but not limited to, trout, herons, ducks, beaver, otter, geese, deer, fox, turtles, stoneflies, and many more endangered species, including, but not limited to, taxpayers (voters). Removing Combination Pond would prevent the full support of aquatic biota, wildlife or aquatic habitat uses. It would violate the statute and break the law.
The pond’s benefits, deeded property rights, include but are not limited to the following: fishing, boating, swimming, birdwatching, wildlife watching, skating, education, recreation, meditation, vegetation, hockey, yearbook photos, photography, art, tourism, flood control, sediment retention, ice storage, firefighter training and testing, backup emergency water supply for firefighting and more. Millions have been and are projected to be spent on recreational facilities in the city of Rutland. These ponds are recreational facilities that already exist at no costs.
We the Committee to Save Combination Pond do not want an increase in property taxes. We want to find ways to make government more efficient and pay lower taxes. This would include the city paying less for consulting and legal fees. The city should engage volunteers to plant shrubs and trees, and other plants called for to preserve the wetlands, and watersheds, mitigating the ramification of stormwater runoff.
“Romeo (Rutland’s city attorney) said he had seen deeds giving property owners rights to enjoy the pond” (Rutland Herald, “Neighbors plan to fight for city pond,” by Brent Curtis). Members of the community also have a legal right to use and enjoy Combination Pond. That right should not be destroyed by city government.
There are many ponds and dams upstream and downstream of this pond that have not been studied. There are temperature data questions. The temperatures were not recorded by an independent entity.
Temperature-montitoring boxes were found on the bank of Combination Pond, not even in the water, by a neighbor and her grandson. The temperature study in total is suspect.
Let us all consider that our property rights shouldn’t be used as a political football. The mayor’s red herring (trout) has been used to divert attention from the real issue: stormwater runoff into the Moon Brook watershed. Ninety-nine percent of the Moon Brook watershed is not Combination Pond. The pond is two acres of the watershed or 1 percent.
Combination Pond has been here as long as anyone can remember. It is a heart-shaped pond, in the heart of a neighboorhood, in the heart of Vermont. Our mission is to save the pond for the community.