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North Yarmouth board OKs limited hunting in town park

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North Yarmouth board OKs limited hunting in town park

NORTH YARMOUTH — The Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 on Tuesday to allow limiting hunting in Old Town House Park.

The board’s approval, with Selectman Rob Wood abstaining, echoed a recommendation earlier this month from the Recreation Commission. It allows deer hunting in November and turkey hunting in May, by permit, from a half hour before sunrise to noon.

The system will be revisited in three years to see how many permits were issued, how the park was used by hunters and what game was taken.

The approximately 60-acre park off Route 9 comprises roughly 25 percent of the town’s public lands. Hunting is permitted on the other 75 percent. Selectmen voted unanimously in September 2008 to allow hunting there, subject to easement and deed restrictions.

The board then reversed its decision a year later, voting 4-1 to ban all hunting at the park. They voted unanimously in January to allow weekday turkey hunting at the park in May, supporting a recommendation by the Recreation Commission.

Although Town Meeting voters in June rejected a warrant article that would have allowed all forms of recreation, including hunting, on all public lands, selectmen sensed that the question might have passed if it had been geared around hunting specifically in Old Town House Park.

That sentiment triggered an attempt by selectmen and the Recreation Commission to reach a compromise, which led to Tuesday’s decision.

Resident Jim Moulton said that while he supports the park being open for hunting, he does not favor the Board of Selectmen addressing the issue after the public voted on it at Town Meeting.

“You had a public vote ... to me, that’s pretty sacred,” he said. “And they chose not to open it to hunting, even though I disagree with them.”

Moulton suggested to selectmen that they and the Recreation Commission organize a Town Meeting article, “and get this compromise and bring it back to the people, because I don’t think you people have the right, or should be negotiating hunting over there” after the Town Meeting vote.

“I think it’s a slap in the face to somebody that goes down to that Town Meeting and votes, and then turns around and finds out that you do whatever you want to do, after the fact,” he said.

Selectman Paul Napolitano pointed out that the Town Meeting question addressed all recreation, and that “it was the feeling of the board that at Town Meeting it would have passed if the article had been written to open (the park) up just to hunting.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.