Current Minutes

Big Alum Lake Association
Annual Meeting
20, 2016
Old Sturbridge Village, Steven M. Brewer Theater

The meeting was called to order at 10:20 AM. Joel asked that anyone who wished to speak at the meeting please state his/her name and lot number for the record.

The minutes of the July 2, 2016 BALA meeting had been posted on the web site, and the minutes of the August 13, 2016 Special BALA Committee Meeting had been e-mailed to the membership. Joel asked if there were any questions about the minutes. There were none and the minutes were accepted.

The Treasurer's report was given. Since the July 2, 2016 meeting, income  had come from dues, the Beer and Wine Tasting, the weed treatment reimbursement, and bank interest.   Expenses included the D & O policy, membership mailing and decals, weed treatment final payment, the Trick or Treat event, Breakfast & Kayaking, and the Beer and Wine Tasting.  The Treasurer's Report was accepted.

Joel read the President's Report in which he thanked the members and committees for the hard work they do to keep Big Alum a great place to live and play. He noted that there are some ambiguities in the Association's By-laws and said that the Board and a committee of volunteers will work on clarification of the text and present changes at next year's Annual Meeting.

New members were introduced: Tina Gagnon (106 Paradise Lane), Fred Shea (170 Lake Rd.), Jim Rogers (208 Hemlock Path).

Committee Reports:

Ad Hoc Committee - Jeff Buchanan

The committee, comprised of eight members with a diversity of opinions, had met to discuss Association involvement with walking around the lake. Their meetings had resulted in the August 13 meeting to which the membership had been invited.

Several non-binding votes had been taken at the August 13 meeting. The majority of those present thought that BALA should take a position, perhaps by mediating, to help resolve the walking/trespassing issue. A significant majority voted not to spend BALA money on the legal aspect of the issue - only four members were in favor of spending BALA funds. People felt that the By-laws should be revised to clarify the purpose of the Association. The majority also voted to reduce the BALA dues to $25.00.

Boating Committee - Matt Kibbe and Rick Predella

There has been some use of the island since July 2nd, but the island has been kept clean. Matt has put several buoys out to mark the rocks which are especially visible due to the low water level. There have been no boating accidents this summer. On Saturday, Aug. 13, there was a boat pulling tubers after dark - the Sturbridge Police responded to calls reporting this. Boating reminders: kids must be 16 and have taken the Boating Course in order to drive a jet ski; drivers should make sure lights (bow and stern) are on at night; boaters are responsible for their wakes - the wake is considered part of the boat; drivers should remember to plane off even if going slowly. To a question about loud boat speakers, Matt said that he was not aware of any laws regulating them. A vote taken to purchase two new buoys for the island passed unanimously.

Dam Committee - Ken Gajewski

The dam is in good shape. The water level is down about 8½ inches this summer. Ken will open the dam on November 1 and draw the water down an additional 21 inches to comply with the annual 30 inch drawdown. We are on a schedule where every 5th year, the lake is lowered 36 inches so that people may work on their walls. 2015 was a 36 inch drawdown.

Environmental Committee - Bruce Gran

Solitude Lake Management of Shrewsbury is our new weed-treating company. Bruce met with their representatives and mapped the lake for weeds. Invasive weeds were treated on June 7th and a report will be made available.

SLAC also does lake monitoring. Recent SECI disk readings show that Big Alum's clarity is 26 ft. 2 in., and 23 ft. 1 in. at the dam. Other lakes in the area are not nearly as clear as ours. The EPA in Worcester is holding a seminar about water quality in lakes and Bruce will attend. The group is building a data base of all the lakes in the state, and Big Alum's data goes back to 2002. To a question about whether BALA still belongs to COLAP, the answer was yes.

Because of BALA's diligent weed prevention program, we have received reimbursements from the Town's betterment funds for the past several years. Our historical costs of the weed treatments have been: 2013 - $4019; 2014 - $4985; 2015 - $5080; 2016 - anticipated $5080. A vote taken to appropriate $5000 for weed treatments passed unanimously.

Bruce noted that Vision Landscaping Construction & Design of Brimfield will treat trees for gypsy moths. The company's method kills off the caterpillars before they come out of the pods. Bruce will provide a phone number for the company.

Fishing - Rob Scoble

The lake has been stocked twice this season. There were reports that some fishermen were sitting in their boats or standing on the shoreline by the ramp waiting for the truck with the fish to arrive. BALA is considering finding other stocking places around the lake.

History - John Puffer is still collecting data, and members were asked to share any old stories or photographs.

Membership - Rick Predella

The Membership Committee has new volunteers this year: Tom Clark, Dave Bellerose, Barb Gionfriddo, Laura Eliason, Barbara Hitchcock, Jamie Skowyra, and Mari Roy. Rick thanked them for their work, and thanked Barbara LaRochelle also for doing the membership mailings. Rick has "welcome packets" for new residents.

The Board of Directors and the Ad Hoc Committee had both recommended lowering the dues for next year. The primary purpose of the dues is weed treatment. Social events, like the Beer and Wine Tasting, fund themselves. A motion to reduce the dues to $25.00 for next year was made, seconded, and passed unanimously.

Recreation - Lisa Sanderson

The Recreation Committee was formed in the spring and had held several fun events this summer. On July 4th weekend, there was Trick or Treating on the Trail for kids, the Boat Parade, and lake lighting at night. In July, 25-30 people met at the Trail Rd. beach for breakfast and a kayak/canoe ride around the lake. The Wine and Beer Tasting had a great turn-out, and Lisa thanked Mari Roy and Marni Treitman for organizing the evening. The BALA Facebook page has pictures of all these events.

The committee has planned one activity each month going forward: a progressive walk around the lake in September, an outing at Rapscallion in October, a pot-luck and bonfire in November, along with a walk around the lake to pick up trash, and participation in the Festival of Trees in December.

Lisa proposed a budget of $700 for next year's events. A motion was made and passed to allot $700 for social and recreational activities.

SLAC - Joel noted that the Conservation Commission and SLAC had produced a pamphlet on ways to keep Sturbridge's lakes nice. A copy had been mailed with the spring membership letter.

A vote was taken to give donations to the facilities where BALA had held its meetings this year: $100 to St. Anne's for our July meeting, and $200 to Old Sturbridge Village for the Aug. 13 and Aug 20 meetings.

Nominations - Tracy Murphy

Joel introduced the Nomination Committee members, Tracy Murphy, Tom Liro, and Mark Minnucci, and asked Tracy to read the list of nominees. Tracy read the nominations for the BALA officers for next year:

President - Joel Casaubon, Vice President - Mark Minnucci and Lisa Sanderson, Treasurer - Janet Garon, Recording Secretary - Barbara LaRochelle, Corresponding Secretary - Marlie Willer.

Tracy asked if there were nominations from the floor, and since there were none, nominations were closed. Joel asked if the two nominees for Vice President wanted to say a few words.

Lisa (74 Paradise Lane) said that she and Scott have lived on the lake for many years and have both been involved in many community activities. Recently she has been chair of the Recreation Committee, and has been leading the charge on the walking issue which a majority of people support, she said.

Mark (306 The Trail) said that he is a special education teacher for the Fitchburg public schools and that he loves what he does. He has lived on the Trail for five years and can't imagine living anywhere else. His guests always comment on how clean the lake is and on how well people keep up their properties.. He has been a Rotarian for 15 years, and has worked in a leadership capacity with the Special Olympics. He would like to be involved with the Lake Association and the Big Alum community.

Joel asked if anyone had questions. Discussion about the lake walking/trespassing issue ensued. Fred Shea (170 Lake Rd.) expressed concern that BALA might become involved in the legal action taking place over the walking issue, and he does not want that to happen. Scott Sanderson (74 Paradise Lane) said that everyone in the room was already involved. Marlie Willer (8 Mt. Dan Rd.) noted that about 83 lake residents are involved in the legal action and that they have been served individually. Michael Detarando (98 Paradise Lane) said that Lisa and the walking group at large are being sued, not the Association. Marlie said that if the Association takes a role, even in mediation, then it could become involved legally as well. Joseph Veneziano (240 Roy Rd) questioned Joel about the use of private roads around the lake. Joel (286 Big Alum Road) said that Big Alum Road, Clarke Road Ext., Mt. Dan Road, and parts of Paradise Lane are private. Residents of those roads are allowed to pass through them as far as their own properties. Joel has added a permissive use clause to his deed - his property is private, but he can give permission to people to walk through. His concern is that realtors are selling properties in developments in the area and telling prospective buyers that there is a walking path around the lake.

Joel appointed Janet Garon and Barbara Hitchcock to count the ballots for Vice President. He welcomed Mark Minnucci and Lisa Sanderson to join them to view the process as the ballots were being counted.

While the ballots were being tallied, a voice vote was taken to approve the election of the other four officers as they were unopposed.

New Business

The 2017 meetings will be held on July 1st and August 19th. The meetings will probably take place at St. Anne's Parish Center once more.

Cactus plants were for sale at the back of the room.

Bill Sanderson reported that longtime resident Mary Ellen Tucker had passed away.

Ken Gajewski read the annual Lamarine List which he and John Vibberts had compiled:

73 power boats                45 pontoon boats             7 deck boats

23 fishing boats                36 personal watercraft      31 rafts

30 flag poles - 22 flags       8 boat lifts                       1 airplane

Janet Garon read the results of the vote for Vice President. Mark Minnucci was elected BALA's new Vice President.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 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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