Franklin Countys First News

Farmington selectmen approve Front Street bid, support ASF proposal

The dam at Walton's Mill Pond Park in West Farmington.

FARMINGTON - The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 to support a proposed project from the Atlantic Salmon Federation to remove the Walton's Mill Pond Dam at Tuesday evening's meeting.

Selectman Matt Smith voted against the motion. The final decision will be left up to voters at a referendum to be held in November.

The proposed project involves the complete deconstruction of the Walton's Mill Pond Dam, which was deemed a barrier for the endangered Atlantic salmon by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2009. The ASF has been meeting with town officials and the public over the course of the last year to present information on the project. Although the town essentially has two options, ASF is only able to secure funding for the complete removal. The option of partial removal with an installed fish ladder would not receive monetary support from the organization.

The total cost of the project, covered by secured funding, would be an estimated $1.2 million, which would include a town-led redesign of the park, as well as culvert reconstruction and funding for future maintenance.

The total cost of the fishway construction is estimated between $200,000 to $380,000, with the town carrying most of the cost. The additional issue is that the dam itself, a 20-foot tall structure, is believed to need significant repair. Fixing the dam, which would be required if it wasn't being outright removed, has been estimated to cost $350,000. That would increase the fishway option to $550,000 to $720,000 in cost, with Farmington responsible for raising most of the money.

"I can't see spending three-quarters million of tax payers money to fix a leaky old dam," Town Manager Richard Davis said. "The bottom line is we're in violation of the endangered species act. Whether we wanted it or not, the spotlight has been put upon us and right now we have the opportunity take advantage of money being given to us."

Several public informational meetings have been held, with three more scheduled for late September and October. The project will go to a vote at the November referendum.

In other business, selectmen moved forward with renovations on Front Street after receiving bids from three different businesses. The package was awarded to low bidder Ranger Contracting of Oakland for the amount of $421,402. The motion was passed unanimously with the expectation that the company will provide references.

Ranger Contracting's bid price came in about $20,000 less than the other two companies, however, the number is still roughly $12k more than the projected budget for the project according to Davis.

The estimated budget included using $200k from the Public Works Department, in addition to a $75k grant from the Department of Environmental Protection and $100k from the town TIF account. Davis requested that selectmen consider drawing an additional $22k from the TIF account, which he reported of having a balance of $35,000.

Selectmen approved using the requested TIF funds which will cover this initial phase of the project, which should complete roughly 80 percent of the entire project according to Public Works Director Phil Hutchins. Davis said after the awarding of the bid, and upon positive references, construction should be able to kick off in early August.

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41 Responses »

  1. Of course ASF couldn’t secure funding to keep the dam with a fish ladder; they never wanted to! Bizarre that people are controlled by imaginary fish..
    ‘I can’t see spending 420K fixing a bumpy old road’. Geniuses are already going 40+ mph on Front Street as they use it for a bypass to downtown. Let’s get ‘em going faster until someone is hurt or killed. Would be much cheaper to block the street somewhere along it’s way and make patronizing businesses there more pleasurable and much safer.

  2. Sounds like a lot of money , with or without the Dam...….another hit for Farmington.

  3. Removal of the dam so a few, maybe 1-2 Atlantic Salmon can swim up Temple Stream??? In past years, Atlantic Salmon have been placed in a tank truck and released in the upper reaches of the watershed. Why can't this practice continue? What about the other dams on the Kennebec River? Are all dams being removed? I am glad that i do not own property around Walton Mill Dam and just up stream of the dam. Instead of a pond, there will be plenty of mud flats to look at.

  4. Wow I just can't wait to be reeling in salmon in Temple..
    Wow man!!
    Until the animal rights activists den that inappropriate.

    Where are so these dam kooks coming from?
    Wow Man !

  5. lol between the school budget approved, city budget raise, and solar scam, and the dam to the high price of living of Farmington alone, Folks that's what happens when you let the librals take over im glad I moved way up north where they have sense and know how

  6. Atlantic salmon in Temple stream? Are you kidding?

    How many salmon complained that they couldn't swim up a stream?

    A mile up from the dam Temple stream is 12" wide?

    The PC world has gone crazy!

  7. You just wait, Selectmen of Farmington!!! You just wait for the next election! (all except Matt) You need your heads examined. NONE of you have lived near the dam, nor care one hoot about freaking fish.
    None of you have the guts to STAND UP for the eagles, roughly 30 type of birds near the dam and all the other wild life living there. But you sure are willing to wipe out one of the two dams left in our area. And you've bowed down to the ASF, who prescribe to the philosophy "It's all about the money".

    I will be leading a public charge to prevent this from happening. This is one time the UMF kids SHOULD NOT VOTE!!! This is not their battle. They could care less.


  8. Negatrons: Get out a live a little before instantly disliking every idea you hear about. I caught (and released) two small salmon this year. One on the Sandy River near Farmington Falls, the second above the dam in the Temple stream. They are there but how would you know sitting at home with such big opinions that everyone should hear?

  9. another dam with potential hydroelectric capabilities gone to never be replaced. this world is incredible.

  10. What a fed con job and complete waste of money all around.

    We're actually paying the salaries of these clowns who are trying to get us back to the garden??

    If a salmon ever makes it to Temple Maine, I expect a Wolf will be welcome to roam around downtown Manhattan !!

  11. You can be against the selectmen’s decision-
    You can hate that the dam is going to be removed-
    But, I don’t think you can remove people right to vote.
    The UMF “kids” are still voting adults. If a student attending UMF just left military service you are going to tell them they shouldn’t vote? Really?
    Why do people only like democracy when it only goes their way?

  12. Back to the Garden: I couldn't agree... More tax breaks for the top 3% of uber wealthy and less of taxes returned through public service and local allocations.

    NP: " You need your head examined." Nice start. I care about all the fish even the "freaking" ones. I don;t live there so I have property disputes with the project but I do canoe and fish the pond and stream. I spend a lot of time on that water and honestly it looks nice but it's a shallow decomposing leaf catch. We should be catching trout and salmon in cold mountain streams not bass, pickerel and perch. These warm water fish thrive in the pond along with beaver. The decomposing leaf and such in the pond robs the stream of oxygen and causes algae blooms and decomposition that should no be occurring in a clean mountain stream. Your fears and anger seem personal and emotional.

    In nature a beaver will dam a small stream or brook to build a small pond. The water drowns the trees and plants opening up a small area it the surrounding forest. Eventually the beaver is eaten or moves on and the unmaintained dam eventually gives and the pond drains. At first it look ugly with all the mud and dead wood but the nutrient rich quickly soil fills with pioneer plants and trees and eventually regrows into a forest only to have another beaver move in and start the cycle again. Through ever transition of the environment plants and animals (birds) adjust to the conditions and thrive. The resilience of nature to change is inspiring. The thing that is not natural is consistency. I love the look of the dam but it is not meant to be there forever. When it breaks we (farmington tax payers) will be left to clean up. I see this as a long term vision to help the natural environment and avoid paying huge amounts in the future for the same result. - I was a water/soil scientist and naturalist in a past life. Dams are not forever

  13. Farmington selectmen just got my vote for reelection! Matt, I was going to vote for you anyway. I guess you can now count on two votes.

  14. Samo...I’d be willing to be you caught landlocked salmon, not Atlantic salmon...big difference

  15. We'll all be slaying the hook jawed monsters in no time!

  16. Fly fishing only?

  17. Once again both sides are idiots.

    The right: I ain't never seen no salmon in temple derp derp derp

    The left: Think of the poor salmon, but let's not put in a hydro with a fish ladder so that we can use cleaner energy because dams are gross

  18. Am I the only one that noticed Town Manager Richard Davis' comment... "The bottom line is we're in violation of the endangered species act...." Sounds like a federal law/act that the town of Farmington can't ignore forever and probably will eventually incur fines or penalties of some sort. Does any one know more about that end of the issue? Is the town of Farmington already paying penalties for this violation of the endangered species act?

  19. HBH: No need to be condescending and reduce every comment to your personal pettiness. I don't think this is political unless you make it so through a filtered lens.

    Politics aside, I totally agree that a fish ladder and hydro power would be awesome but together is not really an option on the table. A fish ladder was an option but we Farmington tax payers would have to be willing to pay for part of it and right now taxing us to do anything to improve this town is an unpopular subject unless it's putting plants on light posts and such. I know fed funding is tax money but people who say this don't seem to understand the difference between federal, state, and local property taxes. To undertake a hydro project someone would have to be is willing to take on a multi million dollar project. Suggesting it here is just pie in the sky unless you are willing to step up and do something to make it happen.

    Aside from the politics and proof of fish I'm actually supporting this mostly to avoid a future property tax increase in the near future to repair or remove the dam on our local property tax dime. This is not a school district issue that affects the surrounding towns this is a issue for Farmington residents who pay taxes and literally own and fund the maintenance of this public park and dam.

    MD: Thank you for pointing that out. That may be so, hard to tell with a 6 inch fish that doesn't even resemble the mature adult. The one in the Sandy could have been from the recent spawn released. Also, landlocked salmon were once Atlantic salmon before they were trapped in lakes and streams. The drive in these fish to travel long distances is deeply entwined in their gene's.

  20. Take out the Walton Dam for a few Salmn can go up a very small waterway, and then the Canadian Geese and ducks won't have their waterway. Hummmm....

  21. Just wondering how many of the commenters have attended the public meetings about this dilemma.

  22. Rip the dam out and its gonna stink

  23. Thank you Miz Powers.. I was wondering if the law will change when the dam is removed and the salmon arrive.

  24. Were I a town leader in Farmington, I would recommend hiring an independent biologist to conduct a study to see if there were even Atlantic salmon in that area, which anybody who has fished that area can tell you there isn't. This line right here should tell people what kind of people are behind the ASF, "Although the town essentially has two options, ASF is only able to secure funding for the complete removal. The option of partial removal with an installed fish ladder would not receive monetary support from the organization." The fish ladder is the cheaper of the two options, but ASF will only settle for total removal. They are a liberal tree hugger run environmental group based in Canada. Foreigners should not be dictating what happens in another country. Tell the ASF to go screw themselves and leave the dam the way it is.

  25. Please attend the three informational meetings that are scheduled for this fall. They will be advertised. An informed decision is a good one. These sessions will address among other things the facts surrounding the biology of why this is being proposed.

  26. Atlantic, do your homework atlantic are different from landlocked salmon, ther hasn't been an Atlantic salmon in over 100 year's, except for the thousands that were seeded as eggs . The mortality rate was almost 99 %never survived. I give a damn about my dam6

  27. Gary. "Atlantic Salmon, U.S. Fish & Wildlife National Digital Library, Timothy Knepp illustration. Answer: From a taxonomic perspective, there is actually no major difference between Atlantics and landlocks, which are sometimes called “landlocked Atlantic salmon.” They are the same species, although there are some genetic differences. (The species name for Atlantic salmon is Salmo salar , whereas landlocked salmon is Salmo salar sebago .) The relationship of the two is similar to that of rainbow trout and steelhead (both Oncorhynchus mykiss ), in which life history and behavior, rather than genetics, distinguish the two."

    Just a matter of access to the ocean. If they can do it so can the trout and we could catch steelhead trout.

  28. What about getting the dam put on the registry of historical places? If possible, would this make a difference? The loss of habitat with dam removal will be big and isn't the dam providing aeration in the pools for the fish below? With the pond gone won't property values drop in this area? Or will it add more taxable property to all the backyards? Anyway, I've enjoyed the scene at the old dam and still do as do many others in the area, but it is not my call cause I don't live in Farmington.

  29. Are there plans and funding to initiate a program to seed this stream with Atlantic Salmon once the dam is removed? It seems like a huge waste of time and money to remove the dam so that salmon can come back to the stream unless they are re-introduced. It is my understanding that Atlantic Salmon return to the streams where they were spawned to mate. Without human intervention removing the dam will not bring salmon to this stream.

    I agree with the comments about the other structures in the waterway between Farmington and the ocean. Unless those are removed as well it seems unlikely that this dam removal project will lead to a thriving Atlantic Salmon population in this stream.

  30. While the rest of the country/world are removing dams, a few people who don’t like progress gripe.
    That stream flowed for millions of years without a stupid dam a couple hundred years is nothing of note.

  31. TJ.... The Dems are going to include salmon in their immigration plan when they take over DC this fall..

  32. TJG: I just found this clip from the sandy river seeding. I believe in early 2000's the Edwards Dam in Augusta, which was one of the first dams ever removed in the U.S., prompted the Sandy River salmon projects because it opened the this Mountain Water Shed to the Ocean. The Salmon spawning grounds need to be in these clean Mountain Streams and Rivers.

    Remarkable footage of mature, returning Atlantic Salmon in the Sandy River in Phillips, Maine. These 4-year olds have been to sea and returned thanks to the work of Paul Christman and the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

    This video shows how the town of Orrington, dealt with their dam and Salmon restoration It might be helpful to watch and see how they worked with the town on all angles and came up with the idea of the Rock Ramp. This creates a natural dam and stream that the salmon can traverse. The video very is informative.

  33. Dam removal on major waterways I can see that, Kennebec, Sabasticook, Penobscot, Sandy, Androscoggin, Dead River but a tiny waterway that amounts to little more than a brook that runs out of Drury Pond, I can't see wasting the money and time to remove a dam, that at the moment does more good than harm. Now were there documented salmon runs in that area(there isn't) There were a documented 840 Atlantic salmon in a run recorded in the Penobscot, none in the Sandy. I have been fishing the inland waters of Franklin county for better then 35 years, never have I caught a wild Atlantic salmon, in Franklin county anyway. These people dump a bunch of eggs around the county and hope they hatch and grow into a viable salmon fishery, that was stupid.

  34. Hey about MAKING PEOPLE like SAMO identify themselves. Even Hrtlss Bstrd.
    You only print what you want to. Make people IDENTIFY THEMSELVES so we'll know who is running their chops, and if the own a business, we can avoid them like the plaque.

  35. Samo, great video from at least 3 years ago. How is the salmon population today? I am not opposed to trying to repopulate Atlantic Salmon, it just seems that this project is being sold as something it is not. Removing the dam will not bring back salmon to this stream. A lot more work will need to be put into this project after the dam is removed. Are there plans and funding being provided by ASF to seed the stream annually for the next ten years? Are they going to fund ongoing studies to monitor the success of this project?

    If the ASF wants the dam removed for the sake of removing a dam, that should be the stated purpose. If the goal is to reintroduce Atlantic Salmon, I'd like to see those plans, and have ASF sign a commitment with Farmington to support that long term goal.

  36. Miz Porter... I do use my name ... but, don't really care if someone does not.. I do agree that we should avoid plaque. It ain't good for us..

  37. Hey HB,Temple Stream does not come from Drury pond.But that's ok Because many of the facts in this comment section are merely opinions.

  38. TJ G: good point. I only know of the two I've caught and released this year. Again, salmon returning to their primal instincts is not entirely why I would support this project it's just second prize. I really support this because it's an opportunity to do it with help rather than later 100% on the local property tax. Who knows, the dam could last another 100 years or 10. I believe there has been an assessment of it's condition and needed repairs to the structure.

    Nancy: Accept that not everyone shares your views or accepts your rude demeanor. I know this will cause you go into instant offended mode but so be it. I'm thinking of the local taxpayer, which I am one, and do not need to be called names, be made out of false narratives, or suffer the harassment you seek to inflict outside of a simple conversation. Thank you and have a nice day maybe turn off the news for a week or two and enjoy life.

  39. That's my Nancy, I always welcome your opinion......

  40. If the opposition for the salmon ladder at the dam is because of increased property taxes, why not pay for it with the first year's money from the CMP power line that passes through Farmington from Quebec? Supposedly, the amount the town will get in the first year will more than cover the salmon ladder. Don't quite understand why the ASF will pay for removal, but won't fund a fish ladder for a fraction of the cost. But maybe the powerline won't happen.... then back to square one. One thing is for sure, someone is always working overtime to screw up "our environment."