Logging rigs to use town lot by sports field

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Naples town land will be used for logging machinery involved in a selective timber harvest by the company Integrated Forest Management, Inc. (IFM). The Town of Naples is only allowing access, and no timber cutting will be done on town land.

The privately-owned land belongs to John and Carolyn Meserve. The only reason the town is involved is because the best access point to the Meserve’s property is across the parking lot of the Jeff Plummer Memorial Field and outside the fence on the right-hand side of the sports fields. The American Legion Post No. 155 also shares the parking lot.

Interim Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz provided the Naples Board of Selectmen with the details of the controlled selective timber harvest.

“The most viable access point is coming off Route 11. The hash marks would be on the easterly side of the fence,” Berkowitz said. “They need you as the owner of the land to authorize the use” of town property, he told the Naples Board of Selectmen.

Any contract entered into with IFM would stipulate that IFM is responsible for damage to the town’s infrastructure — in this case, the parking lot, he said.

“If there are cracks and damages, then they will be paving the parking lot. They will take care of any damages. If roads are posted, they would not come across the parking lot,” Berkowitz said. “The landowners would hold the town harmless.”

IFM Vice President Jeremy Stultz “has indicated to the snowmobile club that they will make sure the road they use will be in good shape.” The IFM logging equipment will be using a portion of the trails maintained by Muddy River Sno Seekers, the Naples-based snowmobile club. Portions of the snowmobile trail system actually traverse the Meserves’ property. As the landowners, the Meserve family has provided the public assess for recreational purposes.

On Jan. 29, the Naples selectmen voted unanimously to authorize the town manager to enter into an agreement with IFM. Following the vote, Berkowitz said that timber harvest is compatible in that area because the Zoning Ordinance states “that is an allowable use.”

The Meserves property is located between Route 302 and Route 11. A few years ago, their farmhouse off Roosevelt Trail was removed. The roadside parcel was sold to Kevin Gagnon who built the Lakes Plaza to create more retail business space for lease. The plaza also houses a restaurant, Annette’s Country Skillet. Prior to the completion of the plaza, the Merserves rebuilt their home so it could be seen from Route 302 for a period of time. The Meserves own 186 acres, which has been in their family for more than 100 years.

Prior to realizing that the best route was across town-owned land, IFM considered Hidden Acres Land. According to a letter from IFM Vice President Stultz, “Hidden Acres Land is inadequate for the use of tractor trailer trucks, which we need on this operation to haul biomass chips and other forest products to market efficiently.”

“In order to make the upgrades necessary, a large sum of money would need to be spent straightening the road and replacing a large culvert. These costs would be prohibitive to the landowner,” Stultz said in his letter to the town. “It is for this reason that we seek permission from the Town of Naples to utilize another access point. We propose using the town’s parking area off Route 11 and utilizing a small road which traverses another parcel, connecting again with the Hidden Acres Land, but at a point where the road is straight enough to support tractor-trailer trucks,” the letter said.

IFM has already contacted the snowmobile club, and the crew plans to display proper signage alerting snowmobilers to the logging operation taking place this winter.

“Of paramount importance in this endeavor is safety, followed closely by the protection of the town’s assets,” Stultz wrote.

Please follow and like us: