The Board of Selectmen (BOS) tabled a motion Monday night to acquire a 4-acre pond at 24 Cherokee Drive currently owned by the Indian Fields Homeowners Association (IFHA), citing reservations about adding a property to the town’s maintenance burden that might not have wide public use.
The pond was used for drinking water and fire protection and managed by the IFHA tax district for the last 30 years until last fall, when the homeowners association approached Aquarion Water Company about taking over management of their water system. Aquarion agreed to take ownership of the well fields and equipment but not the pond, according to attorney Anne Peters, who represented IFHA at Monday’s meeting.
With the end of the tax district, the homeowners association will also be dissolving, Peters explained, and, “By law, remaining assets go to the town, unless the town rejects those assets.”
According to Peters, the pond is accessible from the cul-de-sac at the end of Cherokee Drive and directly from the road in areas.
First Selectman Bill Davidson said he spoke with the various department heads that would be involved with the property, including Parks and Recreation Director Dennis DiPinto, whose department oversees the property.
“He was strongly opposed,” Davidson said Monday. “The town has accepted many small pieces of open space and it has been to the detriment of the town. [This pond] is not really usable for the general public.”
Selectman George Walker agreed.
“Even though it’s accessible from that cul-de-sac, it’s just generally not open to the community to use it, other than that neighborhood,” he said. “I’m concerned that if this was to be used extensively by various people in town — get access, throw a kayak on it, have a little picnic nearby — I’m concerned for the neighbors,” as the only land associated with the property is a small strip on the west side.
Peters asserted that, according to the original subdivision map, “There is definitely access from the end of the cul-de-sac,” and residents could use the pond for fishing or other passive water sports, even if there isn’t much land.
At its February meeting, the Conservation Commission voted 4-2 to recommend accepting the property, with Chairman Alice Dew suggesting that a dock could be built in the future (permits permitting) and that “it could be used if there was more access to the pond,” according to the meeting minutes.
According to the minutes, Commission member Ryan Blessey said that “two to three parking spaces” could be added, as well.
Besides availability to the general public, Selectman Howard Lasser Monday night also brought up the issue of adding to the town’s maintenance cost “with no offsetting revenues” to balance.
The selectmen moved to table the discussion Monday to get more information and possibly tour the property themselves before making a decision.