May 28, 2018
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Dexter, utilities agree on boat launch plan

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DEXTER, Maine — It appears a middle ground has been reached between municipal and Dexter Utilities District officials regarding a primitive boat launch on big Lake Wassookeag that is close to the public water system intake.

Both sides support having the Department of Conservation and the Department of Transportation install hard-packed gravel and stone chips to resolve any erosion problems at the state-owned facility. This work is expected to begin next week.

Once the property has been stabilized, it is anticipated that the state will deed the property, which includes a picnic area, to the town. The town would have to vote to accept the gift.

The planning board has recommended installation of a gate to limit access to the site, which both town and district officials support.

“I think that’s going to work out real well,” Dexter Town Manager David Pearson told the Town Council last week.

A dispute over the launch erupted when the state proposed to convert the primitive launch into an authorized public boat launch by installing concrete ramps. There is an authorized public boat launch on the smaller lake, but no public boat launch on the big lake. Larger boat owners are unable to reach the big lake by a large cul-vert-type underpass that connects the big and little lakes on Route 23.

While district trustees have been concerned over the years about the use of the primitive launch, their fears were heightened when the state proposed creating a permanent boat launch. Trustees worried that the added stress on the site and erosion could pose quality problems for the water supply.

Based on those fears, the trustees filed a lawsuit last year seeking a stop to the project. That lawsuit was dropped when the DOT withdrew the permit it had obtained from the town to do the improvement work.

“This is a step in the right direction at least,” Greg Brawn, chairman of the utility district, said Friday of the latest proposal.

“We’d be happy to have the town keep it, if they want, but if something is going to be done with it, then we’d like to have the opportunity to have control of it,” Brawn said. More discussions are needed on how the site would be operated and who would be responsible to open and close the gate, he said.

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