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Brush removal hung up on details.

Byline: Michael Kane

WEST BOYLSTON - While ice storm-related brush removal tops many of the queries made to his office, Town Administrator Leon Gaumond Jr. said the memorandum of agreement he has received from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) leaves important questions to be answered before he will recommend selectmen sign it.

The agreement between the DCR, West Boylston, Shrewsbury and Holden will essentially turn over brush clean-up to the state. The state will bid the project out, and charge the towns based on the group bid. Of that, 75 percent should be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

However, in West Boylston's case, location could be detrimental.

Among the concerns Gaumond has with the agreement is its refusal to accept numbered roadways. Because of FEMA guidelines, the DCR cannot be reimbursed for highway-adjacent brush removal. However, in West Boylston, many homes are situated along routes 12 and 110.

Those roads will also be cleared of brush under a similar process, but through MassHighway, which manages the roadways. While Gaumond does not expect problems because of this, he does not have any details from MassHighway yet.

"It does not bother me the most," he said. "We seem to have an answer for (numbered roads brush removal)," he said. "MassHighway will be responsible for its own roads."

Of more concern to Gaumond is a clause in the contract that states private roads will not be cleared.

Town bylaws list 13 private roads and two partial roadways as private. However, unlike a condominium complex, those roads do not have a homeowners' association and do receive some services from the town.

"I'd like to see exactly what is the definition of a private street," he said. "The bylaws have one definition, but the state definition might be different."

In addition, the memorandum of agreement does not list a bid cost. While there have been estimates floated by FEMA and the DCR, Gaumond said the town must know how much the deal will cost the town before it is signed.

"It's not just brush, it's hangers and leaners, too," he said. "We need to know how much this is going to cost before we agree to it."

He also does not have a timetable for work to be done in West Boylston that he can share with the public, he said. Overall, he expects the agreement to be signed within the next few weeks.

Gaumond noted that brush must be within 10 feet of the road to be picked up. Crews will not enter private property.

For those who are interested in burning brush, the end of the burning season in Massachusetts is May 1. Those residents should contact the Fire Department for rules and a permit, Gaumond said.

ART: PHOTOS

PHOTOG: FILE PHOTO

CUTLINE: (1) Ice-storm debris along Route 110 and Route 12 is not listed in the agreement between the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the town. Instead, MassHighway is expected to clean up state maintained roadways. (2) Ice-storm debris along Route 110 and Route 12 is not listed in the agreement between the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the town. Instead, MassHighway is expected to clean up state maintained roadways.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 23, 2009
Words:537
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