Montpelier council lends support to Berlin Pond group petition
By Amy ASH Nixon
Staff writer | April 21,2014
MONTPELIER — The city council last week agreed to write a letter to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, putting its support behind the petition filed this winter by the Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond group, which is seeking a rule change at the state level to prohibit all human recreational activity at the pond.
Berlin Pond is the sole water source for the city of Montpelier, and part of Berlin, including Central Vermont Medical Center. The city of Montpelier also has a petition before the ANR, seeking a rule change as well, but its petition has a much narrower focus and is only seeking a ban on motorized water craft and ice shanties on the pond.
Melissa Perley, president of the Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond, recently presented to the city council and asked for the city’s support with its petition. The group filed a substantial, more than 300-page, petition with ANR this winter seeking a return to full protections for the pond that were enforced for a century before a Vermont Supreme Court ruling several years ago stated the prohibition was never formally afforded to Montpelier in law, essentially opening the pond for everything from fishing to ice skating, kayaking and more.
Perley on Friday said the Montpelier City Council’s unanimous support in having the city send a letter to ANR supporting their comprehensive push for a ban on recreation at Berlin Pond “is an important step toward our goal.”
“Public support of our petition and his support of returning the pond to full protection is a big deal,” Perley said. Last week, the city council unanimously authorized City Manager William Fraser to send a letter on Montpelier’s behalf urging a moratorium on the construction of a boat ramp or any other construction until both the city’s petition and the citizens petition were heard by the agency. Of the city council action backing a moratorium, Perley said, “For anyone to move forward with building a boat access on the pond while there are two petitions on the water outstanding would make a mockery of both the ANR system as well as our democratic system as a whole.”
The city’s letter supporting the citizens petition will now be attached to the group’s petition, Perley said.
That letter was drafted by city staff and sent to ANR Secretary Deborah Markowitz on Thursday.