VEAZIE, Maine — Four years after the Veazie Dam was removed as part of a massive effort that paved the way for the return of Atlantic Salmon and other species of sea-run fish, the land associated with it finally has been transferred to the town of Veazie for use as a riverside park.
The deed was conveyed electronically to the Penobscot County Registry of Deeds on Monday, according to Roger Huber, an attorney with the Bangor firm Ferrell, Rosenblatt & Russell, which represented the town in the matter.
“We’re excited that it’s now in the possession of the town,” Veazie Town Council Chairman Chris Bagley said Tuesday.
“We’re obviously looking forward to having that space available to hopefully hold some events down there, keep it open to the public for fishing and other outdoor activities,” he said. “I can see this being a huge benefit to the town of Veazie.”
The $60 million restoration initiative has returned much of the Penobscot to a free-flowing waterway, opening the river to sea-run fish for the first time in nearly 200 years while keeping up energy production.
The project involved the removal of two dams, one in Veazie and the other in Old Town, as well as the construction of a fish bypass at a remaining dam in Howland.
In addition to restoring fish habitat, the project sought to create new opportunities for tourism, recreation, business and communities, according to the project’s website.
The Veazie parcel includes more than a mile of shoreline along the Penobscot River, according to Veazie Conservation Commission Chairman Andy Brown.
After the dam was removed, two powerhouses and related structures also were torn down. In the last year, a small park was carved out of the site and some amenities were added, including a hand-carry boat ramp for kayakers and canoeists and five kiosk signs telling visitors about the site’s history, natural significance and place in local culture.
The transfer of land was years in the making because of the red tape it had to get through, including an updated title search and approval from two federal agencies. Town officials also wanted to ensure that improvements complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
People in the area had been allowed to use the property last year for walking, boating and fishing. It also hosted two Veazie Riverside Community Art in the Park events.
The Veazie Lands Committee of the Orono Land Trust will help the town manage the park, both financially and with volunteers, according to David Wardrop, the town forester.