The Waldo County town of Swanville will buy a dam key to the operation of a beloved lake after voters approved the plan on Saturday morning.
Swanville residents voted unanimously in support of the town’s proposal to buy the dam from Goose River Hydro Co., according to Bill Baxter, the treasurer of the Swan Lake Association who championed the move as a crucial one for the long-term sustainability of Swanville.
Baxter said he had believed the town support behind the purchase was there, but he said he was relieved that the plan is going forward.
“This is an important natural resource for the town and for people who have homes and cottages on the lake,” Baxter said, adding that Swanville having control of the lake will “stabilize the long-term future of the town.”
The future of the dam was in question after federal regulators did not renew the license of its previous owner, Goose River Hydro Co., a small hydroelectric power company that owned both it and water rights to the lake. The hydro company agreed to sell the dam to the town for $150,000, but the sale required approval by voters.
Baxter and other town officials said consequences could be severe if the sale could not go through. Without the functioning dam, the lower part of Swan Lake would revert to a stream and the upper part to a river, resulting in a decrease in water level that could affect surrounding properties.
Along with the recreational opportunities the lake provides, its shorefront properties contribute the lion’s share of property taxes in Swanville.