Current Minutes

Big Alum Lake Association Meeting
July 2, 2016

The meeting was called to order at 10:05 A.M.

The minutes of the August 22, 2015 meeting, copies of which were available at the meeting and on the BALA web site, were accepted.

Janet Garon gave the Treasurer's Report. Income, since the August 2015 meeting included both 2015 and 2016 dues, the Wine and Beer Tasting proceeds, and interest on the checking account.  Expenses included the post office box rental, mailings and stamps, our annual St. Anne/St. Patrick donation, a SLAC contribution, the Annual Report fee, an award, and weed treatment. The Treasurer's Report was accepted as read.

Committee Reports:

Dam - Ken Gajewski reported that he had opened the dam on October 15, lowered the water to 36 inches below the spillway, and had closed the dam on November 4. He noted that we had started the season with the water level down about 3 inches.

Boating - Matt Kibbe said that because the water level is down, there are more boating hazards around the lake. He has marked the rocks. He warned of a boat traveling fast at night with no lights. The Sturbridge Police have funds to purchase a boat with a blue light and will be able to patrol the lakes in town at night. He asked that people who have wakeboard boats stay in the middle of the lake. He recommended that residents check the website for free boating courses like the ones offered this spring.  Rick Predella said that residents should make sure that their guests know the boating rules. The yellow buoys mark rocks and the orange ones designate the slalom course.

Regarding the tree on the island - the tree has been taken down and the island has been cleaned up. One person had called to "reserve" the island for July 4th. Because the island is owned by the State, the Association has no legal right to stop anyone from using it. Calling ahead is a courtesy so that people can decide if they want to share the space with others. Parking at the boat ramp is limited.

Fishing - Rob Scoble said that the lake is stocked at the boat ramp in the fall and spring. The Mass. Division of Fishing and Wildlife is looking for alternate spots to put the fish in the lake.

Membership - Rick Predella is the new chairman of the Membership Committee, and the new members of his committee are Tom Clark, Dave Bellerose, Barb Gionfriddo, Barbara Hitchcock, Laura Eliason, Jamie Skowyra, and Mari Roy. The dues letter and membership form had gone out in June and payments have begun to come in. It was noted that dues are earmarked for keeping the lake clean, and treating the weeds.
It was reported that at the Membership Committee meeting on June 1st the possibility of making dues payments electronically was discussed. If there is sufficient interest, the Board of Directors can make arrangements with Pay Pal or another electronic payment organization or with a bank. A show of hands indicated that there was not a lot of interest in electronic dues payments at this time. In addition, on next year's dues form, the Membership Committee will ask for the names of the voting members of each property.

Environmental -Bruce Gran said that our new weed treatment company is Solitude of Shrewsbury, MA. Bruce and a representative of the company had mapped the lake and had treated invasive weeds in a number of areas. Bruce will look at places where residents have seen weed growth and will contact Solitude again. He is hoping to have a representative from the company come to our August meeting.
The Town of Sturbridge allocates $5,000 each year from its betterment fund and gives the money to the town's Lake Associations based on their expenses for weed treatment. This year Big Alum will receive $1,702 from the Town.
There was some discussion about the gypsy moths that have been eating the trees around the lake. There was also a comment about the wooly adelgid which can be found on hemlocks in our area.

History - John Puffer was not present but Joel asked that anyone with pictures or stories to contribute to the History pages of the web site please do so.

Recreation - Lisa Sanderson said that the new Recreation Committee (formerly Social) had been formed in March and was planning many activities from June through December. They have several pontoon tie-up dates set, and have three major events going on July 4th weekend - Trick or Treating on Trail Road in the morning, the annual Boat Parade in the afternoon, and lighting of the shore at dusk. On August 5th, the committee is organizing the 3rd annual Beer and Wine Tasting. This year's event will have a country western theme, with food provided by BT's Smokehouse. Lisa added that the committee is working on the lake walking issue at a grass roots level. Lisa introduced the members of the Recreation Committee: Liz Detarando, Kathy Harrington, Barbara Hitchcock, Laura Eliason, Mari Roy, Marni Treitman, and Marion Reilly.

SLAC - The two boating safety courses offered this spring were very successful. Another two classes will be offered next spring. The Sturbridge Conservation Commission and SLAC have produced a pamphlet about lake conservation and protection. A copy was included in the membership mailing that was sent to all residents.

The annual lake sampling will be done July 22 -24. The water will be tested for clarity, oxygen levels, etc. and the results will be posted on the web site.

Old Business - It was pointed out that we usually acknowledge the deaths of BALA members since the previous Labor Day. Long-time resident, Al Eisold had passed away on October 3, 2015.

New members were introduced: Josh Skowyra (312 The Trail), Marnie Treitman (97 Paradise Lane), and Betsy Peppel (94 Paradise Lane).

New Business - Joel said that Chuck Roy had agreed to be on the Boating Committee with Matt Kibbe, since Rick Predella had become chairman of the Membership Committee.

Joel explained his idea to encourage residents to meet their neighbors. If people do not have a boat but would like a ride around the lake, they can buy or make themselves a flag (blue with a white diagonal stripe) which means "guest or "friendship" and hang it near their waterfront. Any passerby in a boat (pontoon or other) will know that they are available and would like to join them for a cruise around the lake. Captains, who see a flag flying, and have the time and desire for some company, may stop by and offer their neighbors a ride. Joel had a sample flag which he had made.

Scott Sanderson brought up the issue of walking around the lake and said that he thought it should be discussed at the meeting. He felt that it is a BALA issue. Joel replied that the objective of the Association is to maintain water quality and therefore BALA should not become involved in neighborhood conflicts. Scott asked to take a vote to see how many people wanted to discuss the Association's becoming involved. Janet noted that only paid members would be able to vote and that we would need to take roll call before we could hold any vote. She made a motion that the members present at the meeting take a non-binding vote on whether the Association should become involved in the walking/trespassing matter.
Discussion followed. There was a question about the purpose of involving the Association. Marion Reilly said that their walking group wanted to bring the Town of Sturbridge in to resolve the matter. Jeff Buchanan noted that the group wanted a coordinated (the walking group & BALA) response to the problem if they did pursue the matter with the Town. Paul Roy said that the Town does not work on private roads unless there is public access. It was pointed out that the Town plows private roads so that emergency equipment can reach houses on the road. The Town also accesses the private roads around the lake to monitor the sewer lines. However, this does not make the roads public. Janet said that things do not go well for property owners when government entities, whether Federal, State, or Local, become involved. Mark Minnucci, who has a frequently-used private way on his property, noted that Town involvement worries him as well. Another question was asked about using Association money on the walking issue. Again it was pointed out that the purpose of the Association is the protection of the water and lake ecology. There was a question whether the Association could become involved legally if it were to take a position in the walking issue. The answer was that it could.
Janet withdrew her previous motion. Scott Sanderson then asked if the group could take a non-binding straw-poll to have further discussions about lake walking within the context of BALA. The majority of paid and non-paid members present at the meeting voted to hold further discussions, and the issue will be addressed at the August meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 11:25 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara LaRochelle,

BALA Minutes - Archives

July 8, 2006


August 12, 2006


July 7, 2007


 August 11, 2007 


July 5, 2008


August 9, 2008


July 11, 2009


August 15, 2009

July 3, 2010

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