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Exeter group to work up plan to comply with state DES

Union Leader Correspondent

January 01. 2014 8:15PM
The town of Exeter and members of the Exeter Sportsman's Club are trying to work out a cleanup plan for the town property used by the club. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)

EXETER — Selectmen will appoint a subcommittee to hash out a plan for the removal of contaminated soil and the building of a berm at the Exeter Sportsman's Club.

At a board meeting Monday, selectmen voted unanimously to form a subcommittee to develop a proposal outlining how the work will be done and who will be responsible.

Town and club officials are taking steps to comply with a remedial action plan from the state Department of Environmental Services.

The work will involve the removal of clay targets and contaminated top soil from an old trap shooting range at the site off Portsmouth Avenue.

Under the plan, some of that contaminated soil will be allowed to be used in the new 8-foot high berm. The excavated area will then be filled in with clean soil and seeded.

Deciding how to share the responsibilities for the cleanup, the construction of the berm, and the costs associated with the project has proved challenging because the town owns the property and leases it to the club under a long-term agreement.

The club began leasing the site in the 1950s.

While tests showed the soil where the clay targets are located contains lead and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, a chemical compound that has been identified as carcinogenic, further testing found no groundwater contamination, according to a report by URS, the firm hired for the testing.Selectman Dan Chartrand recommended forming the subcommittee with representatives from the board of selectmen, the neighborhood, and the club, along with Town Manager Russ Dean and Assistant Fire Chief Ken Berkenbush.

The group is expected to present a proposal to selectmen in early February.

Berkenbush told selectmen the town should pay for the removal of the clay targets, which would cost about $3,500, and the $4,000 for soil testing done at the site.

However, he said the club should be responsible for the soil removal, the backfilling and reseeding, and the berm construction.

"I don't think we should be involved in berm building at all. We don't have the expertise in that," he said.

Butch York, the club's former president, told selectmen Monday the club wants to move forward with the plan.

"We're open to any responsible suggestions because the neighbors want the berm built, we want the berm built, you want the berm built, so we're tripping over chalk marks it seems to me and we need to get some kind of group together to hammer out the details," he said.

While the town is expected to share some of the cleanup costs, Chartrand insisted that in the future the taxpayers should "no longer subsidize the gun club."

"I value the club being where it is. I like it there. I'm all for organizations that pull members of the community together … but the taxpayers of this town cannot subsidize the activities of the club any longer," he said.

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