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Estimate for Cheshire Dam Removal at $568K

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. —  It could cost more than a half-million dollars to remove the Kitchen Brook Dam.

Town Administrator Mark Webber told the Selectmen on Tuesday that the state Department of Ecological Restoration had completed a survey and reconnaissance study on the West Mountain Road dam and its removal.

The draft survey Webber handed out to the Selectmen is estimated the cost at $568,000 to remove the dam. The town went through a similar process a few years ago with Thunder Dam, also off West Mountain Road, which was taken down largely with state funding.

"It doesn't suggest that we pay for that and these are high estimates and the price would come down," Webber said. "But like in the past, they may pay a good chunk of it or pay for all of it."

The state told Cheshire it either had to remove Kitchen Brook Dam, which had been used as a secondary public water source, or repair it because of wildlife concerns.

Webber said he will meet with Department of Ecological Restoration representatives and bring together a more solid plan in the future.

Water Commissioner Francis Waterman urged the Selectmen to keep him in the loop because the reservoir is still a viable water source and he would like to hold onto it.

"It's a viable water supply for the future and once you take the dam out you are not going to get another dam," he said. "It's just not going to happen, but if it already exists that is a different story."

Department of Public Works Director Peter LeFebvre said a repair would likely be more expensive because of the culverts that would need to be replaced.

Master Plan Committee Chairman Edmund St. John IV told the Selectmen that the master plan survey, hosted by Survey Monkey, is now on the town website and will soon be available as a paper copy throughout town.

"I think it is going to give a really great narrative of what people want in town," St. John said. "We tried to make it generic, but there are some specifics like questions about the school, the water department, and the town government in general."

He added that there will be a mailing informing residents of the survey, urging them to take it, and where to find paper copies. The mailing will also have a QR code that will take people right to the survey after scanning the code with their smart phone.

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, who are guiding the committee through the process, will cover the $376.86 mailing cost and the selectmen voted to reimburse BRPC once provided an invoice.

Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said the board should start solidifying changes they would like to make to the Conservation Commission. 

The board, which now acts as the Conservation Commission, felt it would be appropriate to create commission with residents that were more qualified than just the selectmen.

She said the board needs to figure out how many members will be on the commission, if there will be a salary, and how they would be appointed.

Because the commission only would meet when needed Francesconi asked that one selectmen be on it so when people come in on Tuesdays with building permits someone would be available to sign them.  

She said the selectmen should meet with town counsel and draft a warrant article that would make these changes.

In other business, Webber said Bushika gravel pit solar array developer Kirt Mayland offered to sell available net metering credits to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.

He said the extra credits from a South County project could save the district nearly $40,000 a year, but because the district has already purchased credits, there may be a cap on how many it can buy.

Francesconi said she would like to check with town counsel before releasing any executive session minutes to make sure any sensitive information would not get released.

"I know there are some restrictions on what can be released for executive session minutes," she said. "We will make sure we are right before we do it wrong."

Last week, Selectman Robert Ciskowski said he would like to work toward releasing those minutes that can be released. He said the board could hold an executive session to review the minutes for release in the future.

Tags: dam removal,   DER,   executive session,   master plan,   reservoirs,   solar,   

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