Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 14, 2012

Legislators should keep local pond open

The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

I would like to call attention to an article written by Bill Kirk concerning the Harold Parker State Forest, which appeared in the Eagle Tribune. “This is a real gem here,” said Bob Anderson, who works for the DCR. The only thing missing is the once popular swimming spot - Berry Pond - that has been closed for the last three summers.

Gov. Deval Patrick three years ago said there were not enough funds in the budget to keep some of the swimming areas open. Berry Pond was on the list to cut. I called the governor’s office October 2011 and spoke with one of his aides and asked if she would ask Gov. Patrick to add funds to the budget to open Berry Pond for summer of 2012. Also I made several calls to Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and all the senators on the Ways and Means Committee. I spoke to their aides to ask the senators to add funds to budget to open Berry Pond, leaving my name and telephone number. Next I started to call all the representatives on the Ways and Means Committee, and when I called the second representative on the list, the aide said I was going about it the wrong way. He said I should call my senator, who was Senator Steven Baddour at the time, and my state representative, Jim Lyons. I was under the erroneous impression that members of the Ways and Means Committee collectively as a group represented all the people of Massachusetts, not just their individual districts.

The only one who called me back was my representative Jim Lyons out of all those calls. Rep. Lyons made a call to the DCR Commissioner Edward Lambert and arranged a meeting April 18, 2012 at Stevens Memorial Library to discuss Berry Pond. Senator Bruce Tarr’s Chief of Staff AJ Paglia came and also Rep. David Torrissi was present. After the meeting I spoke with AJ Paglia, and he said Senator Tarr would talk to members of the Ways and Means Committee about Berry Pond. Rep. Torrissi left 20 minutes into the meeting, so I did not get a chance to talk to him. Berry Pond never opened last summer.

What angers me seems to be a lot of waste and mismanagement in the budget. For instance take the Probation Office run by former Commissioner John O’Brien. Where were the checks and balances as to where all the money went? Legislators did not do diligence in their job with tax payers' money. As a result criminal charges were brought against top officials at the probation office. This investigation is still ongoing and costing the tax payers even more money. Another waste and mismanagement in the budget is the EBT Card abuse. This is outrageous allowing people to use these EBT Cards at the ATM machine. How does legislators monitor where the money is being spent? Rep. O’Connell said, “any reform is meaningless if it allows payouts from ATM to be used for any of the prohibited items.”

Getting back to Berry Pond, with unemployment so high and gas prices outrageous this past summer, who could afford to take a vacation? But, if Berry Pond had been opened, families could have enjoyed a picnic lunch and a cool swim and escaped from everyday stress. To the legislators on Beacon Hill, how about giving back to the people of this great state some enjoyment and recreation we deserve. It is the people’s state and we are paying legislators' salaries. And if I am not mistaken the legislators on Beacon Hill are there to serve the people of this state with honesty and integrity. They should do the right thing and add funds to the budget to open Berry Pond for the summer of 2013.

Phyllis Rines

North Andover