Madison Beach Hotel and the Menunkatuck Audubon Society have offered to remove invasive plant species and plant beach grass on a sand dune at the town-owned West Wharf beach.
The proposal was presented at a recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen and will be reviewed by the Board of Finance at its meeting Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The proposal must be accepted by the town boards because the value of the services donated will be in excess of $2,000, said First Selectman Fillmore McPherson.
Shannon Schiesser, a member of the Menunkatuck Audubon Society who also works at the hotel, presented the proposal to the selectmen said Madison Beach Hotel has offered to pay for the work if the audubon society does the actual work. Schiesser said saltwater from the Tropical Storm Irene tidal surge killed the phragmites on one of the dunes. "We were thrilled," she said, because the grass is an invasive species.
Removing soil layer down to the sand layer
The audubon society also intends to take out a woody vine called bittersweet, which also is an invasive species.Schiesser said the bittersweet chokes out native plants, and provides berries that are not nutritious for birds. "But they'll eat it, just like people will eat junk food," she said.
"We'll remove the soil layer as well, take it down to the sand layer, to remove the roots and seeds," she said. The Madison Beach Hotel has offered to pay for native dune grasses, including live plugs and dormant plugs, which will be planted on the dunes.
If the invasive species are not removed, and replaced with native dune grass, the structure of the dune could ultimately be compromised, Schiesser said. "The decaying plant matter will create a soil layer and will overtake the dune," she said.
"No one is giving it away"
Selectman Bill Gladstone made it clear during the selectmen's meeting that the generous offer by the Madison Beach Hotel does not change the status of the dune itself. It will still belong to the town.
"No one is giving it away," said Selectman Joseph MacDougald.
Also at the Board of Finance meeting Wednesday night, the board will discuss and take action on a special appropriate request of $90,000 from Madison Public Schools to add a reserve fund for unanticipated external placements for special education students. "The fund request from the Board of Education for $90,000 can be supported by unexpended 2010-2011 funds returned to the town due to good management by the Board of Education and funding the Excess Cost Grant which was received by as revenue by the town," the agenda says.
Generator for town garage to be considered, along with DUI grant
The board also will discuss and take action on a special appropriation request of $40,000 from facilities for a generator for the town garage. This measure, if approved, also will have to go before the Board of Selectmen.
The board also will discuss and take action on a request from the Madison Police Department to apply for a DUI enforcement grant, a request that also will have to go before the selectmen at their next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 26.