The Town of Montgomery has instructed a contractor to terminate soil disturbance work and get grass to grow back after he was found to have planted soybean crops in the town’s Benedict Farm Park.
This decision that was announced at a recent Town Board meeting came after the Town Board spent several months working with the state, the town’s Conservation Advisory Council and the contractor Tom Owens. The Town Board believes that the decision represents a compromise to all sides.
Owens was only allowed to maintain the park, mow the grounds and harvest the hay according to a five-year contract he signed with the town in 2018.
A new contract will take effect immediately that allows Owens to harvest the soybeans and prohibit spraying any herbicide. According to Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher, 50 percent of the soybeans that will be harvested are usable because a herbicide was not sprayed over the past few months. While the soybeans are harvested, Owens will plant rye and a mixture of grass meant to attract bird wildlife to the park.
Members of the town’s Conservation Advisory Council were concerned about a potential disturbance of bird habitat and that chemicals that were used by the contractor would affect the abutting organic-based community garden area and seep into the water source. The Council noted the historic value of the site because of the archeology hotspots that were found in the park years ago.
Maher added that Owens’ heart was in the right place, as he wanted to improve Benedict Farm Park.
“I want to make sure our community knows that Mr. Owens worked with the town in good faith to ensure we got to the point we are at now, which is working toward ensuring that our park continues to be maintained properly,” he said. “The work he has done was meant to enrich the soil allowing for a more beautiful Benedict Farm Park.”