Derry board OKs engineering study on Williams Dam

Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie discusses the Williams Dam study. All photos by Bruce Frauman

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Select Board on Monday voted to allow Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie to pursue an Advanced Assistance Funding grant to pay for an engineering study of the Williams Dam, which sits beneath the bridge on Route 11 near 100.

Beattie referred to a 2015 Department of Environmental Conservation routine inspection of the dam by a engineer. The report said the dam was “in poor condition and continuing to worsen,” and it is considered to be a “low hazard” dam, although Beattie wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. The inspection recommended that the town retain a professional engineer to evaluate erosion and prepare plans for repair, replacement or removal of the dam afterward.

Beattie said he would like to know what might happen if there is a breach in the dam, information that he said would be necessary for the town to update the emergency preparedness plan. He added that he will be looking for a risk analysis of how both Londonderry and South Londonderry villages might be affected by a breach, especially during a 100-year flood, as well as an inundation mapping and evacuation needs. Given its cultural importance to the town, Board member George Mora said it would also be good to find out how to “repair the known vulnerabilities of the dam.”

Board member Bob Forbes wonders how much water is behind the dam.

Board member Bob Forbes asked if the amount of water behind the dam is truly known since there is so much silt built up in the pond. He said he and his brother installed a gate 35 years ago to help empty the pond, but it has since been broken. Beattie said the gate could repaired if an engineering study said that would help.

Board chair Jim Ameden, who is also fire chief with the Phoenix Fire Company, said it would be “really nice” if the state allowed the town to dredge the mill pond so that his fire department could use the fire hydrant that is there. He said, “We can’t use the hydrant most of the year because it is silted over,” although this year was an exception due to the heavy rains.

Dwight Johnson updated the board on Tom and Judy Platt’s plan to raise up out of the flood plain the old Londonderry Post Office on Main Street next out to their Garden Restaurant. He said 75 percent of the cost will be paid for by FEMA and 25 percent by the Platts.

Though the project is being run through the town, both Johnson and Town Administrator Robert Nied are confident that there will be no cost to the town. Nied said the state has agreed to reimburse the town of any costs “immediately.” A $1,342 bill from the engineer to the Platts will be a test case for this timing. Johnson said a memorandum of understanding between the Platts and the town is being reviewed by Nied and Assistant Town Administrator Sharon Crossman and must be approved by the state.

Nied to leave town government; sand and bids

The board “reluctantly” accepted the resignation of Robert Nied who is the town administrator, zoning administrator and floodplain administrator. After an extended discussion, board members agreed that he would probably be replaced by a full time town administrator and a full time zoning administrator. For the full story, click here.  Beattie said “a good administrator more than makes his or her salary with found money or saved money.”

Nied said he is working with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department  to determine what leverage the town has to negotiate with the owner of a building lot “smack in the middle” of sensitive wildlife corridors. The man had come to the town seeking an access permit to build a driveway, which he has already built.

Beattie asked if there was any way to restrict access permits. Ameden said only one permanent access permit is allowed per lot, so some landowners may have to choose between logging and a driveway.  Approval for the access permit was tabled.

From left, Board members Taylor Prouty and George Mora and Town Administrator Robert Nied.

Ameden said the block wall in the salt and sand shed is in place. Jason Hill returned to ask about his offer to sell sand to Londonderry. Ameden said he will talk with Road Foreman Mathew Rawson, but he thinks Rawson prefers sand from another supplier. Hill reminded Ameden that he is local and can provide sand easily.

Also at Monday’s Select Board meeting, Ameden opened bids on three items.

The contract for liming, tilling and seeding of the town’s two septage fields was tabled due to confusion over the bid from Hart’s All Season Maintenance, which board members thought to be too low.  Nied said he will check this bid as well as the one from Matt Priestly with the Request for Proposal, then call the bidder if he has any questions. This item is expected to be voted on at a special board meeting scheduled for Oct. 29. The liming is deemed necessary by the state environmental agency because the soil is very acidic and could leach heavy metals farther into the ground.

  • A $6,000 bid from Alva Waste Systems of Springfield was accepted for the backhoe used at the Londonderry Transfer Station for 20 years. It had been offered for $12,000 or best offer and there were no other bids.
  • Hart’s All Season Maintenance’s bid of $6,000 to plow and sand the Transfer Station site was accepted as the low bid.

‘Summit Conference’ and Halloween

Crossman and Nied have scheduled a “Summit Conference” of all Londonderry boards, commissions, and committees for 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in the Twitchell Building, 100 School St. Crossman said the main purpose is to avoid duplication of effort and “do more things more efficiently. … We do want to know where we can fit together to make things simpler.” Nied added that another goal is to encourage collaboration when there is a “natural overlap” between the roles of the various boards.

  • Treasurer Tina Labeau said the children’s Halloween party on noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 20 has been moved from Magic Mountain to Town Hall and
  • Champion (South Londonderry) Fire Department member Chris Blackey received permission to close down the end of Main Street from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 for Trunk and Treat. He said this event attracted abut 200 children last year.

Finally, the Chester Snowmobile Club was given permission to use the shoulder of Lowell Lake Road as part of its trail system as has been done for many years.

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