A group of homeowners in Burke Centre are facing a hefty price to replace a retaining wall they share on their properties.
The 30-year-old wall in the Heron Pond community is deteriorating, and estimates to fix the problem are in excess of $50,000 — a sizable amount when split among less than a dozen homeowners. The wall holds up soil in the front yards of the homes, and it is visibly starting to crumble.
A small fraction of the wall is actually on Burke Centre Conservancy property, said Patrick Gloyd, executive director of the Conservancy, which is why the board and staff are working to figure out ways to help the homeowner. There is not a huge urgency to fix it yet, said Gloyd, but it does need some attention in the near future.
"We’re helping because of the peculiar circumstances and because we’d like to see it solved without litigation," Gloyd said.
But a few homeowners have already contacted the Conservancy, threatening legal action. On Wednesday, April 4, the Board of Trustees went into a closed meeting at its first work session since the March election, to discuss how to handle the matter.
"It’s difficult because the majority of the wall is really on the homeowners’ properties, but we want to help them out as best as we can," said Jimi Grande, president of the board.
The board decided to offer the residents an undisclosed settlement amount, and authorized Gloyd to work with legal counsel to draft a letter to the residents. Since the wall is a built-in on the properties, it was included in engineering surveys provided to homeowners when they purchased the properties, said Gloyd. It is the homeowner’s job to "pay attention to those surveys." The only basis allowing the Conservancy to step in is that a tiny fraction of the wall extends onto its property in one corner, said Gloyd.
"Burke Centre is concerned about maintaining the quality of the environment," said Kala Quintana, the Woods trustee. "We’re always trying to be a good neighbor."
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES also discussed the pond dredging issue at the work session. A bathymetric study of Burke Centre’s five ponds was conducted under the last sitting board, and the new board must decide whether to dredge mechanically or biologically.
Since the consulting firm, GKY & Associates, who studied the state of Burke Centre’s ponds found the most sediment in Bass Pond and Meadow Pond, those two ponds will be the first to undergo the dredging process. The board decided to try bio dredging on those ponds and evaluate whether it works by the fall, said Gloyd. Depending on the outcome, it would decide whether to move forward with dredging in the other ponds.
The biological dredging is less costly that mechanical, and it’s also less invasive. After hearing the GKY presentation several months ago, Gloyd said the dredging option seemed like a "no-brainer."
"We’re cautiously optimistic it’s going to work," said Gloyd. "It almost sounds too good to be true, but we’re hopeful that it delivers as promised."
THE FORMATION of a Pool Task Force was briefly discussed at the work session as well. Representatives from the Burke Centre Swim Club showed up to learn more about the task force, since the club’s request for more practice time became a controversial issue among several pool members in recent months. The trustees drafted a preliminary plan addressing the expectations and duties of the future task force.
"This is a jumping-off point," said Grande.
The task force would study the management and operations, including the pool hours and swim club hours, and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees at the end of the next pool season. Trustees will appoint either one or two members from each of the five Burke Centre neighborhoods sometime soon. The public will have an opportunity provide input about the task force and its responsibilities at the Thursday, April 11, board meeting. The board will not vote for the guidelines until the following board meeting, however.