April 06, 2020

Orrington weighs potential dam plans

ORRINGTON – Plans to replace the deteriorating Meadow Dam with a new rock ramp fishway dam that resembles a natural rapids is getting praise from the town’s Conservation Commission as the group makes plans to manage the town-owned site.

“We are pleased with the scope of the proposed development,” Patricia Judd, Conservation Commission chairwoman, told selectmen on Monday. “We consider the current dam and surrounding area a hazard to public safety and enjoyment.”

The five-member Conservation Commission, three of whom were at Monday’s meeting, created a Meadow Dam development plan and presented it to selectmen.

The plan calls for moving the current boat launch site at the Meadow Dam 200 to 300 feet down Brewer Lake Road to the east and adding areas for parking, picnic tables and, possibly, hiking trails along the Sedgeunkedunk Stream.

Whether hunting and open fires would be allowed and specifics on such items as hours of operation are questions that the selectmen will eventually need to answer as the project moves forward, Judd said.

“The above suggestions are just that: suggestions,” she said, adding that the Conservation Commission is “very excited about the town’s new acquisition.”

Orrington acquired the Meadow Dam and the Brewer Lake Dam, both formerly used by Eastern Fine Paper Co., which closed in 2004, through tax liens for unpaid taxes. The town is working with several state and federal agencies to replace the failing Meadow Dam, also known as the Fields Pond Dam.

The rock ramp fishway dam, proposed by local biologists, would regulate water levels with a hidden solid dam wall covered with brook rocks that would allow fish to pass.

The Conservation Commission members also said the group would need to grow or partner with another group or both to maintain the site and proposed trails.

“We are a small group of only five members,” Judd said.

New advertisements for Conservation Commission memberships will soon be added to the town’s Web site, Town Manager Carl Young said, adding that there are several residents who already might be interested.

“This is a wonderful beginning,” he said.

During the meeting, the board also:

. Accepted a plaque from the Marine Corps League, Greater Bangor Area Detachment 1151 for “loyalty and patriotism to our country” for daily display of the American flag, presented by resident John Buckingham, a life member of the detachment.

. Accepted a granite bench from the Cole Transportation Museum in Bangor that honors all veterans. The bench will be placed at the town-owned Meadow Dam along with a sign designating the site as a public access area, once plans for the area are completed.

. Welcomed Christine Lavoie, a former selectwoman, back to the board to replace David Levine, who resigned in June to take a job in Portland.

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