April 05, 2020

Dexter council rejects bids for Wassookeag Dam repairs

DEXTER – The Town Council was dismayed Tuesday night to learn that the two bids received for the repair of the failing Wassookeag Dam were more than double the anticipated amount for the project.

Earlier this year the council had approved an ordinance to authorize the borrowing of $250,000 for the project, which includes enlarging the concrete abutment and the addition of spillways, so the project could begin as soon as possible.

But since the bids came in at $433,121 and $439,000, the council had little choice but to reject them Tuesday.

The project will be re-advertised again in 2007. Bids are expected to be advertised in January or February with work to begin after July 4.

Council Chairman Peter Haskell said Wednesday that there was considerable interest from contractors in the project, but only two submitted bids.

He said some contractors didn’t bid because of the project’s timing and the fact that cold weather would drive up the costs. The council expects bids will be lower if the work is done in late summer or early fall, he said.

Problems with the dam were first identified last year in an assessment conducted by the town and later during a visit by the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

Tony Fletcher of MEMA said the dam has severe leaks through an earthen dike around the concrete spillway wall and is slowly failing, a fact backed up by the increased flows and developing sinkholes.

He said the condition of the dam was serious enough to make all affected downstream residents and shop owners aware of the condition.

Fletcher directed town officials to monitor the dam daily and to begin the repairs as soon as possible, moves that already were under way.

Recognizing the problem, the town developed and adopted an emergency action plan this summer that outlines a course of action should further failure occur before the dam is repaired.

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