ROCKPORT — No, this is not about cannabis dispensaries — it is common lawn grass whose existence so irks a Select Board member that he wants only fescue-free flora on town property.

And while Eric Boucher has suggested small scale trials at first to explore alternatives, if colleagues embrace his ideas it could mean the eradication over time of all grasses from parks, cemeteries, roadsides and all town landscaping.

That was the gist of discussion at the Select Board’s Nov. 14 meeting that saw Boucher take the lead in listing a litany of problems with common lawn grass. They range from rapidly escalating mowing fees and hazards posed by pesticides to pollution from lawn mowers, he said.

The Select Board took no action on the fescue-ian future of Rockport, nor was the potentially explosive issue of regulating private lawns discussed.  But comments of those who participated in the agendized discussion suggest there could be ample official support to soon begin limited testing of alternatives to grass, such as low-growth clovers and mosses.

“I just don’t like grass,” said Boucher in response to which alternative he prefers. He has grown moss on a part of his lawn and it had to be cut only once this year, said.

“I am not talking about replacing all of the grass tomorrow, I am talking about in segments,” Boucher said. “I want to see if we can try something, a section of the town office space, some of the graveyard spaces. The graveyard mowing at Seaview (cemetery) is crazy. I mean, what did we spend, $30,000 to mow a graveyard? That is a lot of money for mowing.”

Town Manager Jon Duke noted the figure is $40,000. He described mowing costs as “tremendous,”  with the current 3-year contract twice the cost of the prior agreement.

Invited to participate in the session were Douglas Cole, Chair of the Parks and Beautification Committee, and also Bill Bow and Meggan Dwyer of the Conservation Committee.

Dwyer noted that in a pilot program in Rockland last year, a plot of town land was left un-mowed. He asked if Boucher envisioned a halt to mowing or replacing grass with other plants.

Boucher said he is open to trying either, but suggested the no-mow approach could lead to problems with invasive species and ticks.

Dwyer said she completed a yard-scaping certification program at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service and is also a Master Gardener.

She suggested several agencies, including the extension service, that have worked on and can be resources when it comes to “transitioning lawns to ground covers and working with roadsides and public spaces.

Mowing at Rockport’s sprawling Seaview Cemetery costs $40,000, so it also might be used to test less costly alternatives to grass. Photo by Jack M. Foley

She also urged that town officials look into “how one can help increase the awareness to the public before changes are made rather than have resistance after.”

The conservation committee is talking about a speaker series to help inform the public on such issues, according to Dwyer. “We are hoping our talks will provide the general public a little more insight into different practices that interest them and also have a component of action and behavioral possible changes,” she said.

Citing the application of pesticides as an example, she said, “Maybe our town employees are skilled (but) most homeowners aren’t and they don’t now how much to put on.”

The use of grasses “comes at a high cost for carbon, landscaping fees, pesticides, water, and environmental and they offer nothing back,” Dwyer said.

And as a possible alternative to the outright elimination of all grass, she offered a method to investigate, what she called “just a different landscape in parks.”

It would involve creating mowed pathways with wild growth alongside them, and in cemeteries just creating rows of mowed paths, Dwyer explained. She offered the idea as a way of “just maybe appeasing both sides” on the issue.

Douglas Cole of the Parks and Beautification Committee reminded the meeting that when it comes to parks, there is a certain “public expectation” of what they should be like. “Anything that gets done,” he said, “is going to have to be well thought out ahead of time and introduced slowly, particularly for our primary parks.”

Boucher said he is not talking about trying his ideas in parks right now, but rather in small areas “to show people this can work.”