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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lakeside owner calls it quits, heads to Maine

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Patrick and Elizabeth Hannon in front of their home on Crystal Lake. (Photo: Bill Polo/Globe Staff)

NEWTON

Patrick Hannon, the owner of a house adjacent to Crystal Lake whose myriad property and environmental disputes with the city have dominated local headlines, says he is cashing out and moving to Maine.

“I don’t like the way I’ve been treated by the city of Newton,” Hannon tells the Globe. “We’re getting out of Newton. I’ve had enough of Newton. It’s not a nice place to live any more."

The sale could bring to a close a difficult chapter in the history of the lake, which has been used by thousands of residents over the years. The long-running battle began after the fire at the house, at 20 Rogers Street, when the Newton Historical Commission slapped on a one-year moratorium that prevented Hannon from demolishing the 1924 Colonial.

Then, for two summers running, city officials claimed that a wall behind Hannon’s beach was unsafe and should be torn down, at his expense. After Hannon refused, the city placed a floating dock in front of the beach for the use of Crystal Lake patrons.

The move infuriated Hannon, who subsequently complained to the state Department of Environmental Protection about the city’s management of the water. Hannon said that the use of a large underwater pump, called an aqualator, was stirring up muck from the lake bottom, disrupting fish spawning grounds and plant habitats. He also said that pressure-treated wood the city used to build a retaining wall to hold in beach sand contains arsenic that is leaching into the water, and that stormwater runoff from the asphalt parking lot poses another environmental threat to the lake.

The city won on all counts except one. The environmental agency said municipal officials must control parking lot runoff.

Hannon said he and his wife Elizabeth decided to relocate on a 300-acre lakefront property they own in Maine because they believe it would be a better environment for their four children, ages 5 to 11. Hannon said he would give the city the first option to buy his property.

A surprised mayor said he knew nothing of Hannon’s decision.

“He hasn’t communicated it to me yet,” Mayor David B. Cohen said in a telephone interview. “Certainly if he wishes to discuss this with us, we would be happy to discuss it with him."

-- Connie Paige

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