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SHAFTSBURY — The Shaftsbury Select Board heard a presentation on Lake Paran that was a bit in the weeds at its Monday meeting.

Alisa Del Tufo, who has been chair of the lake’s board for the past 16 years, was joined by the new director of Paran Recreation Camille Kauffman and Michael Fernandez, the district manager of the Bennington County Conservation District, to inform the Shaftsbury Select Board about the danger of choking weeds coming to Lake Paran — a presentation that was also made to the Bennington Select Board in November.

Paran Recreation is a nonprofit organization that operates the small recreational area next to the lake and the area inside the swimming ropes. But when it comes to the issue at hand, Paran Recreation plans on lending a helping hand to the lake in its entirety.

“We’re trying to take leadership on a problem that we feel is an issue for our entire community,” said Del Tufo.

Since the lake’s creation, it has served as a unique recreation area in the warmer months, but Del Tufo said she’s beginning to hear more complaints about the overgrown weeds in the swimming area than ever before. She said it’s “out of control.”

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Del Tufo. “The lake is filling in,” and without intervention, the lake will become a swamp.

Paran Recreation decided to seek support from local and state governments to protect and save the lake. Members created a connection with the Bennington County Conservation District to help them determine the path forward.

The campaign is called “Save Lake Paran,” and Kauffman said the petition has garnered over 700 community signatures in support of the mission.

Select Board member Joe Barber said he used to be a lifeguard at Lake Paran. He said the lifeguards would jump in a boat that was connected to a chain link fence to help dredge the lake to make it more attractive to visitors.

Barber said, “I don’t swim there because of [the weeds],” but he used to love it before the weeds took over.

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“Since Lake Paran is a gem of this community and there’s so much public support for its restoration,” the Department of Environmental Conservation will partner with Paran Recreation to facilitate saving and maintaining the lake, said Fernandez.

Select Board Chairman Art Whitman asked the representatives of Lake Paran to “please keep in touch with us.”

OTHER MEETING TOPICS

The board is seeking volunteers to be on the Cole Hall Committee and the Economic Development Committee. The committee for Cole Hall should only last a year or two, but the committee for economic development will be a standing committee.

Board member Martha Cornwell thanked everyone for the success of the town’s Polar Express event. She hopes to make it a regular event going forward.

Changes to zoning bylaws were also up for discussion. There are five minor changes planned and the board will be voting on those at the meeting on Dec. 19.

The bylaw updates include making development in the town more eco-friendly, correcting a contradiction regarding the rules of accessory dwellings, classifying tiny houses as mobile homes, and giving the zoning administrator a little more power so zoning line amendments can be completed easily.

The final change to the bylaws will put a blanket prohibition on shooting ranges in Shaftsbury after what happened in West Pawlet, where Whitman said someone came and set up a “training camp for terrorists,” referring to the Slate Ridge firing range.

Cornwell responded that, “it was not for terrorism.” She said it was an educational facility that violated a lot of ordinances, and cost the town a lot of money to shut down the facility. Plus, “we already have a wonderful gun range” in the area, she said.

After a few adjustments and edits, Shaftsbury’s speed ordinance will be voted on at the Dec. 19 meeting. The changes that were made are posted on the town website. If the ordinance passes, Meyers Road, Cole Spring Road and all roads in Hidden Valley will have the speed limit of 25 mph.


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