Plan Proposed for Edwards Mill Dam Repairs

CHESTER – Identifying deficiencies and devising a scope of work for the Edwards Mill Dam site has been a long process, but the town’s dam engineer thinks he has a workable solution to tackle both the faults of the structure and the limited appetite taxpayers will likely have regarding payment for another dam project.

Shawn Patenaude of Dubois and King met with selectmen Steph Landau and Joseph Hagan at the board’s scheduled Oct. 17 meeting to update the town on progress at Edwards Mill.
Though a quorum was not present at that meeting, the two selectmen present decided to listen to the night’s scheduled guests regardless. Landau noted the importance of the three discussions on the agenda and said it made sense to continue with the meeting and not waste anyone’s time. No decisions were made
Noting deficiencies within the dam’s structure, the state dam bureau is looking to have the site addressed by Chester before any critical failing occurs. The structure is located off Raymond Road (Route 102).
Though initial discussions were to repair the dam in its current configuration, reinforcing walls with concrete, Patenaude said a better and more cost effective solution has been pursued and plans for that solution are 90 percent complete and ready to be sent to the state, pending town input.
Patenaude worked with Landau in recent months on the latest design, Landau informing the board of milestones within that project.
Through the years, various fixes and plans have been brought forward.
According to the dam engineer, the sticking point for the state is the cribbing on the downstream side of the structure. It was placed there in the mid 1980s when town volunteers came out to repair the dam. Plans were to pour concrete around it, but that phase of the project never occurred.
As time and water have taken their toll, that cribbing began to hold up the walls of the dam. The concern is that the cribbing needs to be taken out, but there’s no telling how strong the dam still is or will continue to be when that reinforcement is pulled back. So when that material is removed, it will be necessary that the walls must already be buttressed with something else, and according to Patenaude, the walls must be higher than previously planned. That’s a lot of expensive concrete – $40,000 of it at Patenaude’s estimate.
Patenaude noted that given the cost restraints and future use of the dam, it didn’t make sense to tackle the project with new, high concrete walls.
The new plan costs less and Patenaude said it will keep the area’s appearance similar to what it is today. First, a large portion of the dam’s downstream channel would be backfilled with local materials. Then two stonewalls extending across the flow of water would be constructed, one a headwall for two outlet pipes and the other a small wall across the channel at mid-height.
This would create a deep pool of water between the beginning and end of the dam, and water would course through the two existing outlet pipes, which would be extended 48 feet further downstream. The plan more or less creates two culverts for the water to pass through.
A sluice gate would be installed to allow flow control.
Patenaude, noting that grating would be installed over the structure, said the plan would also be a safer alternative to the 14-foot drop that currently exists between the top of the dam and the rocks below.
The current estimate for the project is $79,000. The estimate for the previous design is $119,000.
Initial estimates for the project came to about $50,000, but according to Patenaude, design considerations have resulted in the need for more concrete in the spillway, boosting the overall cost. Landau asked about safety considerations as well as ways to lower the cost for taxpayers. His two plans to do so seemed like nonstarters, however, as the job can’t be reasonably segmented or phased and there aren’t grants for this type of project.
Having previously appropriated money for the project through warrant article and in the budget, the town has about $57,000 currently set aside for the work.
In other business:
Representatives from Boston Systems presented the town with two proposals for improving the town’s Information Technology (IT) infrastructure.
One proposal was to outfit the town with wireless capabilities, something board members had previously asked Boston Systems to bid on, noting the benefit it would be for visitors to the municipal building and multi-purpose room.
The other proposal would be to start the town on a four-year computer equipment replacement plan. This plan would have the town paying a set monthly fee and in return being outfitted with new computers for the town offices and a service plan for those computers.
Getting the town on a schedule for computer replacement has been tried before. Town clerk Barbara Gagnon, who is the point person for Boston Systems, said it would be a boon to the building and work efficiency if everyone had compatible, up-to-date computers. She noted that employees have had difficulty in the past accessing some files because of antiquated equipment.
No decision was made because of the lack of quorum.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.