CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen will hold a meeting with the Division of Ecological Resources and the Water Department before making a ruling on the Kitchen Brook Dam.
Town Administrator Mark Webber told the Selectmen on Tuesday that a representative from DER is willing to meet with the town and better explain the possible state-funded removal of the old dam.
"Before deciding, I think we should consider the meeting ... DER offered to come meet with us," Webber said. "Although the Water Department may not like what they are offering, they can explain it a lot better than I can."
Five years ago the dam received a failing grade and, eventually, the town will have to either remove or repair the dam. Removal could cost $500,000 but DER offered to foot the bill if the town agrees to remove the dam.
Although against the removal, water commissioners say they would be willing to sit down with DER. The commission believes it still may be able to use the dam as a back up water source.
"We will sit down with them it is just not our first choice," Water Commissioner Francis Waterman said. "We don't want to close any doors and maybe they will hear what we are saying and can help us."
The Water Department's main concern is losing a possible better water supply than the current wells. The dam is situated on the mountain away from roads and pollution but hasn't been used in some time.
"We are not interested in the removal because of the ideal location of the reservoir," Waterman said. "Our feeling is that it is an important resource to the town and if we ever have issues, we can use that surface water."
Waterman added that in an emergency, the dam could be a quick fix.
"If we had a problem with our wells right now in very short order we could hook up that system," he said. "We can do that relatively easily."
The dam currently has no water and is no longer listed as the town's emergency supply.
Waterman said engineers Tighe & Bond recently inspected the dam on behalf of the state and although the report has yet to come out, his feeling is that it is in the same condition as it was five years ago.
The dam is more than 100 years old and, five years ago, the town was told it would cost $300,000 to repair. Waterman said the current cost won't be known until the report is released.
He added that the report will also point to possible grants.
Webber agreed there are state grants through Department of Conservation and Recreation, however, the town missed the cycle and they are highly competitive.
"That's what there is," he said. "They are terribly competitive and go to higher hazard dams."
He said $2.4 million was given out to 12 projects in this grant cycle: seven repairs and five removals.
Selectman Robert Ciskowski noted that the town may not have time to wait for the report or a grant cycle because the DER project would be taken off the table. This would stick the town with any possible removal mandates.
The Selectmen agreed that because DER was willing to meet with the town, delaying the decision another week would not hurt.
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