A state-funded study of the Parker Mills Pond Dam is underway, with the goal of evaluating whether to partially or fully remove the crumbling dam, which sits under a long-closed section of Elm Street.
The town’s stated goals for the project are to restore the river, protect nearby infrastructure and improve local flood conditions. Additional goals include improving the habitat and migration path for fish, enhancing public access and supporting the redevelopment and historic preservation of the Tremont Nail Factory buildings adjacent to the dam.
Town Planner Ken Buckland said technicians from the Fuss & O’Neill environmental engineering consulting firm will be working to collect data about the site over the next few weeks.
Two public meetings are planned, at which consultants will present the possible approaches to remediating the dam and another at which the selected solution would be presented.
The dam has been the center of a dispute between the town and A.D. Makepeace, as both parties claimed that the other is the partial or full owner of the failed dam.
In 2018, the town filed suit against the cranberry grower, claiming that it owned only 25 percent of the dam. The company claims that the town has full responsibility.
The town later dropped the suit and entered into a series of negotiations with the company, said an official. The town has not given up its rights to file litigation about the matter in the future.
The official said that the study will also help the town figure out whether there is state money available to fund the eventual project, noting that the Department of Fish and Game often removes dams to facilitate fish migration. If state money funds the work, the official said, the question of ownership is less relevant.
In 2014, the dam was classified as a High Hazard Potential Dam by state officials, which means its failure could result in the loss of life and damage homes and businesses — a decision that closed the road indefinitely.
The town received significant state funding toward a repair that same year, but the dispute over ownership lasted so long that the funds were no longer available.
Last year, the culvert under the bridge was repaired using state funds.
The dam is located underneath one of the main Tremont Nail Factory buildings, which are set to be revitalized through the work of a master developer.
For more about the project, go to https://bit.ly/ParkermillsDam.