Questions posed to New London’s Citizen Advisory Committee

By New London Town Administrator Jessie Levine

The Board of Selectmen held one of its regular meetings with the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) on Saturday, December 11. Selectboard Chair Tina Helm used the opportunity to pose several “what would you have done” questions to the CAC. The dialogue surrounding these three situational challenges revealed the complex nature of issues that seemed, on the surface, fairly straight-forward. Let’s see what you would do:

Situation #1: In 2007, the Town applied for a Hazard Mitigation Program Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to redesign and reconstruct Lamson Lane, which had been severely washed out in at least two storms as a result of significant upstream stormwater runoff and an inadequate drainage system. The worst washouts resulted in significant silt deposits into Pleasant Lake. In order to address the deficiencies, it is likely that the road will need re-engineering, widening, and numerous culvert upgrades.

After multiple site visits and years of dialogue with the NH Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (which administers FEMA grants in this State), we recently heard that the grant will finally be funded in 2011 and 2012. While the grant provides 75% of the project funds, it will require the Town to come up with approximately $110,000 in matching funds (which can be a combination of cash and “soft” match of labor and materials) over the next two years.

Though this would add an unanticipated expenditure to the Town budget, the Selectmen voted 2-1 to recommended adding $55,000 to the 2011 budget as the first of two installments towards the Town’s match. Chair Helm asked the CAC, “What would you have done and why?”

Situation #2: In its 2011 budget, the Recreation Department recommended adding $8,000 to replace Sunfish sailboats for the sailing program at Bucklin Beach. The current fleet of boats – used boats donated when the sailing program started many years ago — is in very bad condition.

In order to continue the sailing program at Bucklin, it is necessary to buy two new boats or three used boats. This is the second year in which this budget item was recommended by the Recreation Department; in 2010, the Budget Committee removed the line item from the budget and suggested that the Recreation Department should seek to have boats donated from townspeople. Advertisements and e-mails seeking donated sailboats were not fruitful, and the boats have weathered another year.

The Selectmen voted 2-1 to include this line item in the proposed budget. Chair Helm asked the CAC, “What would you have done and why?”

Situation #3: In 2002, the Town opened a capital reserve fund for the prevention and treatment of milfoil infestation in New London’s lakes and ponds. Initially the Town annually deposited $28,000 into the fund and gave grants of $15- 20,000 every year to the lake associations to help pay for the boat launch lake hosts, who inspect incoming boats for milfoil and other invasive species.

The intent was to allow the remaining funds to accumulate so that they would be available to fund milfoil treatment, should that become necessary. In 2008, with about $62,000 in the fund, the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee recommended against appropriating new money into the fund and in favor of spending down the balance on the lake programs, at least until better financial times.

At the end of 2010, there will be about $8,000 remaining in the capital reserve fund, which is not enough to cover the annual grants to Lake Sunapee, Little Lake Sunapee, Pleasant Lake, and Messer Pond. Combined, the lake associations have requested $21,200 for each of the next two years.

Those in favor of contributing the money to the lake associations point to studies showing that the introduction of milfoil into a lake can reduce waterfront assessments by up to 20%. Seeing this as a town-wide responsibility, the Board of Selectmen approved the lake association’s requests and voted to keep the $8,000 in the fund for future use.

Chair Helm asked the CAC, “What would you have done and why?”

What do you think?

You may read the CAC’s thoughtful responses in the meeting minutes that will be posted on the Town’s website later this week. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts with the Selectmen by e-mailing me at

For other articles, visit the Town of New London website.

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