By Lisa Loomis

Work to repair the Waitsfield town pond gets underway today, after Kingsbury Construction was awarded the job this week.

Kingsbury Construction was among the firms that bid on the project, which involves drawing down the water in the pond as well as mitigating damage to the wetland that occurred when unauthorized work took place in the wetlands north of the town pond and a beaver dam on another lower pond.


Town Administrator Valerie Capels awarded the $4,695 bid this week after being authorized to do so at an emergency select board hearing on April 18.

The town pond is on the west side of Route 100 in front of the Big Picture Theater. On April 9 select board chair Charlie Hosford consulted with Fred Viens, Viens Excavating, because the town pond dam was failing and the overflow intake valve was not functioning. Viens lowered a beaver dam on the smaller, lower pond to the north to bring water levels in the lower pond down to where the upper (town) pond would drain.

Hosford and adjoining property owner Russ Bennett were concerned about high water levels in the town pond and a sinkhole that developed at the north end of the pond. After Viens did the initial work, the town received a notice of violation from the state for failure to obtain the appropriate permits to work in a Class II wetland.


At the state's request Waitsfield hired an engineering firm to assess the safety of the dam and prepare a mitigation/repair plan. The town hired Shawn Patenaude of Weston and Sampson Engineers in Waterbury to assess the dam and propose written findings. Patenaude's proposal was okayed by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and incorporated into the request for proposals that contractors bid on this week.

The work that must be done includes restoring the wetlands and then drawing the pond down so that pressure on both sides of the 30-year-old soil dam is equalized. Before the water can be drawn down, the wetland restoration must be completed. That requires that a newly constructed channel to reduce pond levels be stabilized by regrading.


Additionally, stone protection is called for at the discharge end of the dam's outlet conduit. Then, beyond the stone fill, erosion control blankets are to be used to line the channel. Soil removed from the April 9 excavation of the beaver dam must be removed and the exposed soils regraded to drain towards the channel. All exposed soils need to be seeded and mulched.


When that work is done, the water level in the pond can be drawn down at a rate of a foot a day to the point where the town can assess the riser. The water will be lowered to the silt line and the town can then have the dam assessed and determine how it will proceed with that repair.

While the state is satisfied with plans to remediate the wetlands work and draw down the pond, it remains to be seen whether the state will levy a fine on the town for beginning the work without a permit.