Fire-Water: Freezing Millions of Funds
On March 5, 2011 a massive 9-alarm fire raged at the Stevens Farm along Route 122 just north of the Barre Common. Two days later an unprecedented flooding event wreaked havoc in the downtown area causing substantial damage to the privately owned Woods Memorial Library. To date a cause and effect of these events has not been thoroughly examined and many facts remain unanswered.
Consider the following recent Facebook post by Barrien Menuier:
- expended fire-waters surged (run-off) onto the lower snow covered fields and frozen tundra of open farm lands
- frozen soil unable to absorb the added fluidity of hundreds of thousands of gallons of fire-water .
- expended fire-waters remained surfaced at 1000′ seeking level to 899′ Dicks Brook
- ‘second’ water source local disruption flux
- unnatural & uncharacteristic rate and elevation of surface water
- surface water temperature change expediting additional and dramatic snow/ice thaw
- Post fire Time-line – turbulent back-flow and flux of Dick’s Brook
- flooding of Route 122/West Street | Barre Common | Woods Memorial Library etc
- cause & conclusion – man made flood and not an act of nature
- occurrence – negligent act caused by illegal use of fireworks
Now consider the following timeline associated with Barre Inc.’s well orchestrated public campaign to pass a $1.4 million debt exclusion to fund the Common Improvement Project and secure federal TIP money.
January 31, 2011
Barre holds a Special Town Meeting to pass Article 16. On this night, neither member of the current Barre Common Rehabilitation Committee, Moderator Paul Cranston and MassDOT engineer Jason Benoit, present the Article which the TWO person committee submitted and the Board of Selectmen approved. Rather, it was BLA member Joshua Smith. You can watch his presentation here.
Also, at the STM the patriarch of the Carter-Stevens farm, Daniel Stevens who is a longtime director for the nonprofit Barre Emergency Rescue Squad, stood up and reminded the Board of Selectmen that they’ve yet to address a 60 year old problem – the occasional flooding of Dick’s Brook (on this night and for several weeks later he and others would wrongly refer to the water source as Galloway Brook). Mr. Stevens stated that this matter must be remedied before spending taxpayer money on the Common Project.
Inexplicably, this well known issue was not addressed by the Common Rehabilitation Committee, the Board of Selectmen, or any other proponents of the Common Project. (see: barre historical society 1953)
March 5, 2011
“A massive fire ravaged a main barn complex at the Carter & Stevens Farm Store Saturday night, but firefighters’ quick actions saved the main farmhouse.
People from town and nearby communities could see an orange glow lighting up the sky about 11:15 p.m. Saturday…”
Media reports reveal how around 200,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire. While fighting the blaze that evening Barre Fire Chief Joe Rogowski was notified “after using roughly 102,000 gallons from the town’s system, firefighters were told they had to find another source or risk depleting the town’s water. Firefighters found a brook and sucked up another 95,000 gallons“.
This request, presumably from former DPW Water Chief Glen Alt, would seem odd given the fact the Town of Barre at the time could withdraw 420,000 gallons/day as stipulated in its latest MA-DEP permit.
As for the unnamed brook, the closest water source to the fire would have been either Galloway Brook or Dick’s Brook.
March 7, 2011
“(T)here was a major flood event on the Barre Common. As with past events, this flood poured from Gallaway Brook to the common down into the Woods Memorial Library, and caused severe damage (nine inches of water in the building). The elevator shaft flooded, and extensive repairs are needed, including replacing the bottom 4 feet of walls“.
The following was posted on the Woods Memorial Library’s web site. The building and grounds are owned by the the nonprofit Barre Library Association. Among the BLA’s 33 members include Sen. Stephen Brewer and Joshua Smith. The BLA’s directors are local attorney Ann Meilus, Lester Paquin, Paul Dumanowski, Lucy Allen, and Linda Payne.
March 14, 2011
DPW Superintendent Jason Pimental submitted a report on the March 7th flood at the DPW Commission’s meeting.
Among the interested parties in attendance that evening included Daniel Stevens, Arthur Frost (BLA member and MA DOT employee), Steve Clark, Lucy Allen and Ann Meilus.
The following highlights of the field investigation include:
- The March 7th event was defined as “unprecedented”
- The ~200,000 gallons of water associated with the fire was determined to be insignificant
- “The overwhelming contributing factor to the flooding was a pipe blockage in the main pipe”
- An immediate action plan included securing drainage easements and installing a new drainage system along Newton St. and Grove St. which would also include the library
As documented in the report, the blockage was located “just below Doctor Rapisarda’s building behind the Barre Town Library. This blockage was eventually located when a portion of the pipe blew out of the frozen ground in the drive just below Dr. Rapisarda’s office“.
“In talking to the town DPW Dr. Rapisarda informed them that sometime before the pipe blew out, the manhole cover over the same pipe a few hundred feet upstream (next to his office entrance) was blown off by a geyser of water“.
No pictures are known to exist of this geyser or of the likely water damage done to Dr. Rapisarda’s building.
The DPW was informed that much of the water used to fight the fire at the Stevens barn upstream of Galloway Brook had flowed downhill and flooded the lower fields. This water combined with the snowmelt and rain could have been trapped by an ice dam and let go suddenly. Even though this may have exacerbated an already bad situation, the volume of water in the Galloway brook watershed system would have made the additional water from the fire statistically insignificant and would at the most account for a short burst of water over the banks of the brook and not a sustained 12 hour overflow as was observed.
TWO-HUNDRED THOUSAND GALLONS of free-flowing water. Combine that with significant rainfall and snowmelt. Add into the equation an elevation drop leading to Dick’s Brook. Conclusion: statistically insignificant.
According to Town Administrator David Battistoni’s summary in the MassWorks Grant he filed with the state on September 14, 2011, he wrote the following:
On March 7, 2011, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the town received 3.41 inches of precipitation within a 24 hour period. The trash rack became filled with vegetative debris and stormwater began to accumulate, forcing nearly the full flow of Dicks Brook over its banks, flooding the West Street and Newton Street intersection and its surrounding properties. Although the Town’s response was handled routinely, the rate of rainfall combined with a blockage in the pipe along Newton Street caused water to flow onto Route 122 for over 12 hours. The contributing drainage system built pressure due to the blockage, eventually causing a pipe burst resulting in significant property damage in the region, including the Town Hall and other property owners on Allen Street. Stormwater continued to flood the region until the blockage was cleared.
In his summary, Battistoni cites “significant property damage in the region, including the Town Hall and other property owners on Allen Street” attributed to the pipe blockage near Dr. Rapisarda’s office. However, no public records exist of any significant storm damage to Rapisarda’s office, the Town Hall or “other property owners on Allen Street”. In fact, the only private owners known to have suffered significant damage was the Barre Library Association.
Battistoni goes on to chronicle other flooding events in 2005, 2007, and 2008. Yet, somehow nobody addressed this matter when planning the Barre Common Improvement Project.
The flooding caused by Dicks Brook has caused public safety and transportation issues, including road closures requiring diversion on emergency response times. The public and private properties in the area along Newton Street, West Street, and Allen Drive are endangered by flooding. Roadway infrastructure has been compromised due to the flooding; flooding of roadways threatens economic activity in the adjacent business zone.
What came out of the meeting was the DEP is going to expedite the permitting process for the project, HUD (sic: EOHED) is working with the town on a MassWorks grant to pay for the design and engineering of the project and District 2 (MADOT) is going to handle the state part of the project,” said Ericson… He said that Brewer has notified all agencies involved that this is an expedited process and he will stay on it from his end of things. Brewer is also working on funding sources for the project…
Posted on April 4, 2012, in Town Matters and tagged Ann Meilus, Arthur Frost, Article 16, Attorney Paul Cranston, Barre Common Oversight Committee, Barre Common Rehabilitation Committee, Barre Library Association, Carter and Stevens Farm, Cherie Benoit, Daniel Stevens, Dick's Brook, DPW Commission, Dr. Rapisarda, EOHED, Fire Chief Joe Rogowski, Glen Alt, Jason Benoit, Jason Pimental, Joshua Smith, Lester Paquin, Linda Payne, Lucy Allen, MA DEP, MA DOT, MassWorks Grant, Paul Dumanowski, Selectman Kathy Inman, Selectman Lief Ericson, Selectman Richard Jankauskas, Senator Brewer, TIP. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.