Cambridge to debate dam repair at meeting

Posted Feb. 27, 2009, at 8:02 p.m.

CAMBRIDGE, Maine — Whether the deteriorating Cambridge dam should be repaired or replaced and how much money should be dedicated to the project will be decided at the annual town meeting on March 7.

In preparation for that action, town officials have scheduled a public hearing at 10 a.m. today, at the municipal building. The results of a study on the dam conducted by MBP Consulting of Portland will be shared with residents.

The dam, which separates Route 150 from Cambridge Pond, is eroding and is in bad shape, according to Carol Laplant, the town’s administrative assistant. Some repair work has been done, but much more is needed and the work is expected to cost about $500,000.

There is a “gray” area in the ownership department of the dam, according to Laplant. Some town officials say the state owns the dam, while state officials have advised that the town owns the bridge.

“As opposed to losing the dam and losing the pond that’s the center of Cambridge, the selectmen and the residents of Cambridge have decided we’re going to work on it to try to maintain it to whatever degree we can, rather than let it wash out and have a big marsh in the middle of town,” Laplant said Friday.

The engineer retained by the town has recommended a set of actions to be taken, including: a topographical survey; test borings; verification of property lines; preparation of necessary local, state and federal permits; verification of the cost of repairs; preparation of a bid package; and look into obtaining public funding, possibly through grants or bonds.

Since a conceptual design has been developed for the dam, some town officials and residents say the project should be considered under the federal stimulus package.

To move the project forward at the annual town meeting, Laplant said residents would be asked if they want to repair or replace the dam. They also will be asked to authorize selectmen to appoint a committee to work with town officials and the engineer to oversee the work and to do fundraising for the project and determine what sum, if any, they want to raise and appropriate for the dam. Selectmen have recommended $5,000, the same amount raised last year. Those funds were used to pay for the design, according to Laplant.

Laplant called the $5,000 “seed money” because it could be used to match a grant, should the town obtain one.

Also at the annual town meeting, residents will vote on a proposed municipal spending plan of $274,901, which represents an increase of $13,000 from last year’s approved expenditures, according to Laplant.

Selectmen have recommended the salaries of town officials remain the same as last year.

Three selectmen and a town clerk are among the elections that will be held at the 10 a.m. town meeting, which will be held at the municipal building.

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