AYER -- The Board of Selectmen added another free cash request to be put forth at Town Meeting after hearing from members of the Ayer Conservation Commission and Dam and Pond Committee on Tuesday night.

Voters could decide whether $40,000 in free cash should go to fund a survey and biological assessment of all six Ayer ponds.

The substantial information in the study could detail how the town can protect its ponds from stormwater pollution and weeds, said Bill Daniels of the Conservation Commission.

The assessment costs about $83,000, $15,000 of which will be covered by the Department of Public Works and $20,000 of which is available from the Community Preservation Committee, he said. Another $10,000 is coming from the pond and Dam Management Committee.

Daniels said it felt wrong for the groups to spend money on pond improvements without having a better plan.

"When it comes to the ponds, we're neophytes," he said. "We need an expert to tell us what to do."

This left a deficit of $38,000. Selectman Pauline Conley suggested rounding the number up to $40,000 and asking for that in free cash at Town Meeting.

"If Town Meeting says no, we have the backup alternative of using UDAG," she said, referencing the town's Urban Development Action Grant account. "If we have to. I would prefer not to, but if we have to."

The board unanimously approved.


Selectman Christopher Hillman recused himself from the process of reviewing bidders interested in purchasing the old central fire station, announcing that he occasionally does some work for one of them.

The two bidders can not be made public until the evaluation process is completed.

Selectmen also received a proposal for window replacement in Town Hall from window replacement company Renewal by Andersen.

The project would insert 74 windows at a cost of $159,618. The company touts that its high-performance, low-emissive windows are 70 percent more energy efficient in the summer and 45 percent more in the winter.

Conley said the board still has time to decide on it, and that she would also like the Finance Committee to weigh in on the proposal. The board could also move to ask voters to allocate free cash for that project at the upcoming town meeting.

A request from Shaker Hills Country Club to extend its liquor-serving hours beginning this Easter was delayed. Their current license allows them to start serving alcohol at 11:30 a.m., but the club is seeking earlier services hours so that it can serve Easter brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

But Conley voiced concerns that the new hours might conflict with a pre-existing town bylaw. The board will likely address the new hours at its next meeting.

Former Selectman Jim Fay also came before the board during public input to thank Ayer residents for support. Fay resigned in February after learning that his wife, Annmarie, had cancer.

"Through the help of Our Church and Our Community we will win this fight against cancer," Fay's statement read. Fay said he and his wife would still like to remain on the Memorial Garden Committee.

"To all our supporters we say keep the cards and letters coming," he read. "We look forward mail call and Gary needs the work."

Hillman also brought up the recurring issues of town traffic, new business certificates and the issue of staffing in the building department, arguing that the town needed to make progress on all three items.

Selectmen also presented a recognition to Ian Smith, a member of Boy Scout Troop #3 Ayer who recently became an Eagle Scout. Smith cleaned government markers on the graves at St. Anthony's Cemetery in Shirley as part of his Eagle Scout project, explained the troop's committee chair, Karen Januskiewicz, in a letter to the board. Smith also painted the statutes and the entry sign at the cemetery.

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