Solar array posed as possible solution for troubled Lockhart Field

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Could a second solar array be in the cards for Milton. (Courtesy photo)

MILTON - Amid health concerns posed by several former Nute High softballers who formerly played at Lockhart Field, the site of a former town dump, selectmen on Monday moved toward a possible second town solar garden like the one currently housed behind the town transfer station as a possible redevelopment option for the troubled field.

During selectmen's comments at the regularly scheduled BOS meeting, Selectmen Chairman Tom Gray said he had talked with Nh SolarGarden, who quickly drew up plans for a possible install and the monetary benefits that the town could expect.

Preliminary estimates are that the town would be paid a yearly lease of $7,900 for the community solar array, with a 20-year lease with two five-year extensions.

In addition to the lease money, Nh SolarGarden expects a saving to the community of more than $1 million over 25 years based on a 5 percent annual rate increase from Eversource.

Gray also said the Lockhart landfill, which had been downgraded for its chances to get a Brownfield Grant to help pay for environmental testing at the unsealed landfill, might now qualify for the grant since a redevelopment plan is being mulled.

The landfill, which was closed and covered with topsoil but not sealed in 1978, was also recently visited by state Department of Environmental Services personnel, who did a visual inspection at the former ballfield.

Public works director Pat Smith along with Gray and John Katwick accompanied the group doing the tour.

"They walked around and didn't see any visual signs of problems," Gray said. "Now they'll go back to their people and talk about what they found."

Gray added he was encouraged after touring the former landfill with DES.

He also suggested they do testing on a well at Lockhart that had supplied water for bathrooms at the field.

"We want to be proactive," he said.

He also floated an idea they might put some test wells in at the site, but who would pay for that is still unclear, he said.

Milton selectmen voted last month to padlock Lockhart Field, which is still being considered for an EPA-funded Brownfield Assessment Grant that could possibly determine if contamination lingers at the field where for years Nute High Schoolers played and practiced softball.

Gray's move to close the field comes close on the heels of recent posts on social media regarding chronic illnesses said to have afflicted Nute softball team members who played and practiced at the field while in high school.

Concerns roiled townspeople even more two weeks ago when several posts on the Milton, N.H., Facebook Page referred to nervous system disorders like MS by women claiming to be former Nute High softball team members.

One, from a woman who said she was a former Nute student and manager of the high school softball squad, said she had Transverse Myelitis, which is sometimes associated with multiple sclerosis.

While the woman's name is identified on Facebook, The Lebanon Voice will not disclose her named due to privacy concerns. The woman said she recently contacted a lawyer regarding Lockhart Field and that she would have no comment for the press at this time.

However, in her initial post, she speaks of others on the team who have been affected by what she calls the "poisons" present at Lockhart Field.

"I am an alumni from Nute/Milton... well, I have some issues going on and I'm seriously thinking about bringing it forward... our girl's softball field was built on top of the old dump... that field IS poisonous! Every single girl from that first year (I was the manager so I was there just as much) ... I will not mention names but we all have something neurological wrong with us... ," the post reads in part.

Another woman claiming to be a Nute High alum, commented "I agree that something is wrong, I also was diagnosed with MS about 16 years ago and I have heard that many of us have neurological problems."

Area residents from both Milton and Lebanon have quietly harbored fears that potential toxins from the unlined landfill could be leaching into the local aquifer, the Salmon Falls watershed and even Milton Three Ponds.

The field has also been the site of vandalism through the years due to its remote location.

For that reason, also, Gray expressed optimism for the solar array.

'We don't want to involve the public, because it's so secluded back there," he said.

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