We need your help! Please plan to vote in support of future Lake Mansfield improvements at the Great Barrington Annual Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, June 22 at 6pm (check the Town of Great Barrington's website for updates about the meeting).
Through careful planning and strategic implementation, important strides have been made for Lake Mansfield. This progress has been made possible through the Town of Great Barrington’s commitment to this vital community space. Working together, we have accomplished tremendous improvements for the lake’s water quality. Town Planner Chris Rembold has been essential in guiding our Improvement Plan strategy and securing grant funding.
In this, our second installment of the Spring 2020 Lake Mansfield Newsletter, Chris Rembold describes the latest Lake Mansfield improvements and next steps for Lake Mansfield Road.
Later this month, the newsletter will be available to read in its entirety and download on our website. Please share these stories with your friends and family to help us to continue to strengthen our care of Lake Mansfield on behalf of our entire community.
Be safe, stay healthy, and remember to connect with nature each day!
Christine Ward, Project Director
Improvements at Lake Mansfield & Next Steps for Lake Mansfield Road
by Christopher Rembold, Town of Great Barrington Assistant Town Manager / Director of Planning and Community Development
Over the last decade the Town of Great Barrington and Lake Mansfield Alliance have worked together to complete significant projects which protect the health of the Lake Mansfield Watershed with the goal of preserving Lake Mansfield for future generations. The following are success stories of current efforts as well as information about the redesign of Lake Mansfield Road—one of the most important projects the Lake has ever seen.
Knob Hill Stormwater Improvements
The stormwater improvement project on Knob Hill Road was completed last May. This steep road was a major source of stormwater runoff or nonpoint source pollution (including rain storms and snow melt), which can threaten water quality and increase weed growth. Deep-sump catch basins and a stormwater separator were installed along the side of the road, creating a system that will catch and keep pollutant-laden runoff out of the lake. Together with the boat launch improvements completed in 2018, the Knob Hill Road project is helping to make pollution at the south end of Lake Mansfield a thing of the past! This project was funded in part by the Town and by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) under section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The Great Barrington Land Conservancy has contributed funding for habitat reclamation, which is the final stage of this project.
Parking Lot Improvements at the Beach and Forest Trail Area
The 2018 Watershed Based Plan identified other stormwater runoff problems around Lake Mansfield, including a dirt parking lot at the north end of the lake serving patrons of the beach and the forest trail system. The Town has received another EPA / Mass DEP grant for this project through section 604b of the Clean Water Act. This spring engineers will design stormwater best management practices, such as swales and catch basins, to reduce and treat runoff before it enters the lake. With these designs ready, we will be eligible to apply for grants to construct these stormwater runoff reduction measures and go forward with these improvements.
Lake Mansfield Road Improvements
In early 2019, after years of research and study, the Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force made its recommendation to the Town’s Selectboard for improving Lake Mansfield Road. In June 2019, the Great Barrington Selectboard voted in favor of the Task Force’s recommendation to close the road to vehicular traffic between the boat launch and the beach area. The public will still be able to drive to the beach area, but from the north end only. The new design will include access for emergency services and access from the north to the existing residence at 30 Lake Mansfield Road and to East View Pool. The long-term plan includes stabilization of the lake edge, stormwater drainage improvements, removal of a portion of the existing roadway, and installation of a new recreational path.
This plan has been vetted through many years of discussion, public scrutiny, and intensive professional study. While this was a controversial decision, the Selectboard, the Task Force, and many community members recognize that closing the most problematic portion of the road to traffic, stabilizing the bank, increasing the buffer zone, and reducing stormwater pollution will vastly improve the long-term health of the lake.
In the meantime, you may have noticed that the road is currently one-way, so vehicles can travel only from south to north. This decision was made by the Selectboard because it is important to limit vehicular traffic at the lake edge until the long-term improvement plan, including the road closure and creation of a lakeside recreation trail, can be implemented.
Next Steps for the Town of Great Barrington
In order to implement the long-term plan, Town officials will seek voter approval at the upcoming Town Meeting (scheduled for Monday, June 22, 2020) for $165,000 that will be used to prepare 100% engineered and permitted plans. Once those plans are developed over the course of a year or two, the Town could then seek grants in order to fully implement this project. Continued opportunities for community input will be included in this final design phase.
For further information, please visit:
Christopher Rembold is the Assistant Town Manager / Director of Planning & Community Development for the Town of Great Barrington, MA.