Firm awarded contract to fix Sebasticook Lake dam

Posted Sept. 13, 2011, at 8:28 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — The Board of Selectmen has had enough of trying to put Band-Aids on its ailing Sebasticook Lake dam.

For the last several years, the chains holding up the dam have snapped during the annual lake drawdown. Late last month, the chains broke while preparations were made for Tropical Storm Irene, moving up the drawdown by three weeks. The chains have broken five times since 2007.

“We’ve played around with this dam a number of times over the years,” said Selectman Doug Franklin. “I think it’s time to fix it once and be done with it.”

The dam originally was constructed in 1982. It was paid for and installed by the Maine Department of Environment Protection.

Kleinschmidt Associates, which has an office in neighboring Pittsfield, was employed to fix the dam several times.

“The guy from Kleinschmidt seemed like a nice enough guy, but they did the original design and we’ve used them many times in the past and we’re still having problems,” said Franklin. “I really want a fresh set of eyes looking at it.”

Wright-Pierce, a Maine-based engineering firm, was one of four companies to make their case during the last selectmen’s meeting. It was unanimously chosen at the meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Jeff Musich, a representative of Wright-Pierce, “has the knowledge of how [the dams] operate and he also has the experience with designing. He seems to have all the bases covered,” said Franklin.

A representative from Wright-Pierce will be asked to attend a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21, to start the process of designing a new dam. The cost of the project was not given.

Wright-Pierce has offices in Topsham and Portland.

“I liked their design,” said Selectman Chris Dow. The layout, he noted, was one in which the gate lifts straight up and down, as opposed to the current dam, which has a gate that lies flat when open.

Also during the meeting, J.D. Raymond Transport was awarded the brush and wood grinding contracts for the town.

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