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Town officials were given more time to determine the fate of Kitchen Brook Dam after the state reduced its risk level.

Cheshire Dam No Longer Considered a Risk

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The state Office of Dam Safety has lowered the severity level of the Kitchen Brook Dam from a significant hazard to a low hazard.
Town Administrator Mark Webber told the Selectmen on Tuesday that he received a call from the Office of Dam Safety recently after a new survey of the dam deemed it less of a concern than it was five years ago.
"To paraphrase, they don't give a damn anymore about this dam and they have more than enough to deal with with high hazard dams across the commonwealth," Webber said. "They  are less concerned about our little dam up here." 
Over the past few weeks, the Selectmen have discussed terminating the dam with state Division of Ecological Restoration funding and returning it back to a natural state. However, the Water Department asked that the town keep the dam as a backup water supply.
Town officials feared the state would increase the severity rating of the dam as it continued to deteriorate forcing the town to remove or replace it at its own cost.
Highway Superintendent Blair Crane said the dam may have been deprioritized because it really is no longer is a dam.
"The dam didn't get any better and really it isn't a dam anymore," he said. "It's full of material but it's not holding any water and the hazard is the water." 
Chairman Robert Ciskowski said the new ranking gives the town more time to figure out what it wants to do now that the removal of the dam is not a priority.
"They lightened up on us and it does change the situation," he said. "This does give us some breathing room ... this gives us a window of time." 
The water commissioners have made clear that they want to repair the dam, however, Webber said the recent report does not detail how much this would cost.
In other business, the Selectmen heard from a resident of Pine Valley Mobile Home Park who asked for an update about road paving at the park. 
Park management increased rent and promised to pave but that has not been done.
Ciskowski said the board did send park management a letter a few weeks ago but have yet to hear back.
The Selectmen agreed to have town counsel send another letter. 
"The town attorney will send them a formal request for what they are planning and at this point, I guess they haven't formulated a plan," Ciskowski said. "I know that's not what you want to hear."  
He added that there is still time to pave.
"I know summer feels like it ended abruptly but fall is still a good paving time," he said. "You don't want to pave when there is snow on the ground but September and October are good paving months."

Tags: dams,   DER,   

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