By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Selectmen are asking four local hunters and a member of the Open Space Committee to develop a potential policy to permit bow hunting on town-owned land.
At a meeting last week, the board voted 2-1 to seat Peter Connolly, Jamus Driscoll, Stephen Forest and Christopher Trim along with an as-yet-unnamed member of the land use board on a subcommittee tasked with presenting the proposed policy for resident-only hunting for the public to debate. After getting public input, selectmen will then decide whether to adopt the policy.
Selectmen Chairman Bert Knowles was in favor of Selectman Glenn Kemper’s motion to create the policy subcommittee, but colleague Dick Cushing voted no.
Kemper said he is “not a hunter nor will I ever be a hunter” but felt that because there are people who want to hunt in town and because there is already illegal hunting currently on town-owned land, it was worth exploring how a policy might be worded.
Currently, hunting is illegal in town unless the hunters get written permission from the property owner and carries the permission with them while hunting. But it is fairly common knowledge that deer and other animals are regularly being hunted on town land.
If bow hunting were permitted at certain times for residents only on land like the Dunn and Craven properties, it would be easier for police to enforce illegal hunting when it happens in other parts of town, Kemper said.
But noting that the town is only 14 square miles, Cushing said that “the current arrangement is workable” and allows for balanced access to open space for everyone in town.
Selectmen also received an update from Public Works director Gary Bill on a meeting he had with officials from the state Department of Transportation regarding sidewalk repair and installation in West Newbury.
Bill said he learned that a plan to install sidewalks near the town’s only elementary school would likely be cost-prohibitive due to the amount of infrastructure work need to access the school site up on top of Pipestave Hill. However, the state is amenable to partnering with the town to upgrade the town’s current sidewalks, which run along Main Street from the Training Field down to the Groveland border, Bill said.
The board also discussed an offer to obtain a 1.9-acre tract of non-developable, mostly swampland that is currently part of the Webster property on Wood Street.
Selectmen meet next on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. in the first floor hearing room on the 1910 Town Office Building.