Originally called Campbell Pond for its discoverer and know later as Gould Pond, this lake within the Town of Hillsborough, itself incorporated in 1772, is known as Emerald Lake since development of its surrounding area when it was slightly enlarged in 1967 so as merit the label of “lake”. Some residents still refer to it as “The Pond”.
In 1961, enterprising developers from Massachusetts, one Banker and Bello, in the absence of governing state oversight established a subdivision of approximately 840 acres around the lake, originally known as Emerald Lake Shores and intended for seasonal vacation homes. The lot sizes were therefore small and by today’s standards, would be deemed substandard. The developers failed to fully fund the development, creating fiscal and related problems.
In 1966, a voluntary association of subdivision residents was formed, called the Emerald Lake Property Owners’ Association (“ELPOA”), which has since dissolved.
Establishment of the Emerald Lake Village District
On June 26, 1979, a Petition establishing the Emerald Lake Village District as a formal governmental entity was approved, and filed with the Secretary of State on July 11, 1979.
The District was originally established to provide a wide variety of purposes, including:
However, at Annual Meeting on January 20, 2006, Warrant Article 16 was passed as amended to remove certain of these purposes, and a more limited scope of purposes resulted:
In fact, the District does not (yet) engage in operations for its own sewage and waste treatment plants, since most homeowners have septic or other DES approved individual systems. We also do not undertake separate firefighting operations, although the Town of Hillsborough does use our lake water for fighting District fires.
In 1989, the first Master Plan was established for the Emerald Lake Village District. This has been updated since as an element of the Town of Hillsborough Master Plan.
The District is governed by a Board of Commissioners supported by a part-time contract Administrator. Meetings are held monthly, in addition to the spring Annual Meeting at which voters are asked to approve budgets and special warrant articles.
The main activities the District engages in today are (1) recreational operations which include maintaining four beaches and lake use, (2) providing a community well based drinking water system; and (3) maintaining and improving its roads.
The District took control of a fourth (and last) public beach in 2014 as a transfer from the former ELPOA, consisting of two adjacent lots bordering the old meetinghouse site at 103-109 Gould Pond Road. The other three beaches are Hummingbird Beach on Hummingbird Lane, the Emerald Beach off of Emerald Drive, and Eastman Park with its beach.
Drinking Water System
The developers, in an attempt to bail out of financial woes, offered a sale of the well supported community water system in or about 1976 or 1977 to investors by ad in the New York Times. The asking price was $221,000. This stimulated discussion around establishing a formal body to be known as the Emerald Lake Village District, which happened in 1979.
By a 2/3 vote on January 24, 1984, an icy and stormy date, with 14 for and 6 against, the article to acquire the water system by the ELVD was passed.
As of the original Master Plan date of 1989, it reported a water system of 13 miles of water mains and 6 active drilled wells supplying some 340 homes.
There are now 8 active wells plus a treatment facility, and a water storage tank with a main facility referred to as “The Pumphouse” at the main site on Patten Hill. The system is run through contract with an operator.
The original lines were 2-4 inch flexible tubing which is now more than 50 years old and failing. The District has entered into an ambitious capital improvement plan supervised by the Department of Environmental Services, Drinking Water Division, to replace lines and mains. This is currently ongoing after completion of the Phase 1, which replaced lines and mains in a loop around the lake.
There are about 13 miles of roads within District boundaries, some minor parts of which are Class 5 roads maintained by the Town, but most of which are Class 6 roads maintained by the District. The District maintains roads through contract with a roads maintenance contractor.
Emerald Lake Village District now encompasses about 540 households using the water supply, roads and recreational facilities. While there are still some seasonal buildings, most are built for permanent year-round use, although many of these are used as second homes or rented.
The permanent population is no doubt increasing, however, as many people are choosing to move here in retirement; and the ELVD community is happily growing. We remain challenged to provide for services based on a property tax surcharge through the Town of Hillsborough for nonwater related purposes, and assessing through water bills to support a water system. However, the participation of more permanent residents will undoubtedly make this an even better community for everyone with all our natural resources centered around Emerald Lake.