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09/03/2009

By Lisa Loomis

Work to replace the earthen berm dam at the north end of the Waitsfield Town Pond was completed this week and water is slowly refilling the pond -- dewatered partially since the spring of 2008 and completely since August when work began.

The dam at the north end of the pond failed in March 2008 and the town took action to reduce water levels after an eight-foot sinkhole developed in the dam. That action earned the town a slap on the wrist from the Agency of Natural Resources for illegal discharge into state wetlands. It also earned select board member Charlie Hosford a fine from the state for taking the action.

REDUCE WATER LEVELS

That summer, to comply with the state's enforcement order, the town was required to remediate the damage to the wetland downstream of the pond, reduce water levels in the pond and make plans to replace the 30-year-old earthen dam.

The town held a well-attended public hearing in July to take comment on what and how the dam and pond should be repaired. The consensus of those present at that meeting was that the pond was an important resource for the town and that the dam should be replaced.

The select board considered a variety of options including restoring the dam and pond to the original configuration, reducing the size of the pond, allowing it to return to a wetland or creating a new type of dam. Ultimately the board decided to bring the issue of pond/dam repair to voters at Town Meeting where, after a spirited debate, voters approved spending up to $100,000 to replace the dam and return the pond to its original state. 

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DRIED AND SCREENED

Kingsbury Construction began the repair/restoration work last month, having provided the winning bid for the job of $83,913. In addition to replacing the intake/outtake structures and the dam, the project included dredging 582 cubic yards of material from the pond. That material was taken offsite where it will be dried and screened. Emptying of the pond revealed a long-sunken rowboat, and during earth work in the pond, a particularly viscous patch of mud almost succeeded in eating a backhoe.

During the course of the work, the town approved two change orders which added $4,292 and $1,508 to the price of the job. One change ordered added stone and concrete footing and a concrete pipe cradle and the other added stone under the outlet structure. The total cost of the job, with change orders, came to $89,713. In August, the select board opted to take out a line of credit for up to the voter-authorized $100,000 to fund the project.

RESTORE THE WETLANDS

The 2008 work to engineer the repair of the dam cost $11,302.25 and the town paid approximately $4,500 to restore the wetlands. Town Administrator Valerie Capels said that the 2008 pond expenses came out of the general fund and that the balance of the voter-approved $100,000 for the pond would be used to pay back the town's general fund for the 2008 engineering expenses.

Capels also said that Kingsbury Construction would be back on site next week to install a new section of the Mad River Path across the dam, along the trees around the pond and toward the Carroll Road. From there, path users can reach the boardwalk, travel through the wetland toward the Skatium, the Mad River Green Shopping Center and beyond. The connection of that path segment to Main Street (Route 100) will be completed after a new crosswalk location has been determined.

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