Dam repair, Tannery Park cleanup grant move forward

By Susan Mustapich | Nov 27, 2018
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The Select Board approved a $235,000 bid for repair of a long-discussed leak below the Seabright Dam on the Megunticook River.

CAMDEN — Two developers have contacted the town about Tannery Park, a town-owned property recently awarded a federal environmental cleanup grant.

Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin told the Select Board Nov. 27 that two developers have reached out to the town. He brought this up during a discussion about choosing a consultant to plan and oversee the environmental work.

Tannery Park Brownfields Cleanup

Martin said he, Leamon Scott and Jeff Senders reviewed two proposals from environmental consultants. They recommended hiring Ransom Consulting, based on the company's qualifications, prior work with the town and understanding of the community. The cleanup is funded by a federal Brownfields Grant of $200,000.

Tannery Park on Washington Street is the current home of the Camden Farmer's Market, and was the former home of a leather tannery that went bankrupt decades ago. Since that time, three community workgroups have focused on the future use of the property. The first two workgroups found that community members were divided by visions of economic development versus green space.

The most recent tannery workgroup recommended a plan that incorporates the farmer's market, a natural play area for children and an area for the possible development of a building for use by a business or nonprofit organization. Ransom Consulting produced a report for this workgroup, detailing residual levels of two chemicals remaining in the soil, and recommended cleanup methods. Capping the existing soils with clean fill and landscaping is one of the recommended methods.

In 2008, the town worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a major cleanup of the property that involved excavation of soils contaminated with high concentrations of chemicals. This cleanup was limited to an area on the Rawson Avenue side of the property.

Martin noted that Ransom will begin its work soon. According to Ransom's proposal, the initial work involves preparing a community relations plan, initiating public outreach and involvement activities, facilitating public meetings and preparing cleanup bid specifications. The goal, according to Martin, is for a proposal to be ready for the June town meeting. Any decision on the future of Tannery Park will be made by voters, he said. If approved, cleanup work could begin in June 2019.

The next phase of Ransom's work involves recommending selection of a cleanup contractor and providing oversight for the contracted cleanup work.

The finished work will meet requirements "to achieve regulatory closure prior to or during the site redevelopment," according to Ransom's proposal. Ransom Consulting has extensive experience with 29 different EPA-funded Brownfields cleanup sites in Maine.

Martin said the reports of all three work groups would be shared with any interested developers. He noted that the Riverwalk will remain on the property. He said the timing of development work could overlap with the final phases of Ransom Consulting's involvement.

Seabright Dam repair approved

The Select Board unanimously approved a $235,117 bid from Calligan Dive Services of Searsmont to repair leakage beneath the Seabright Dam on the Megunticook River. Calligan submitted the low bid, and was recommended by Wastewater Department Superintendent David Bolstridge. The high bid, submitted by Atlantic Mechanical of Woolwich, was $424,635.

Seabright formerly generated electricity, and contains a small hydropower plant. The repair to the dam involves cementing over a leak between the dam's headwall and an old concrete sill beneath. It also involves replacing the lower gate, which is made of wood. Water intake, once used for power generation, will be sealed.

Bolstridge explained the difference in cost of the two bids: Both require the building of a coffer dam, which keeps water away from the dam during the repair. Calligan will use a coffer dam around the leak below the headwall, and will use divers to replace the gate and block the water intake to the power generation plant, while Atlantic proposed a larger coffer dam around the entire area to be repaired.

The leak under Seabright Dam was investigated after residents with waterfront properties on the Megunticook River noticed their docks and floats were sitting in mud by midsummer two years in a row. The low water levels coincided with significantly lower annual rainfall.

The leak was investigated by WaterWorks Diving Services in October 2017. The problem was alleviated using a temporary fix that involved placing material in the seam, covered by angle iron, which cost about $25,000. Waterfront residents succeeded in convincing the town to pursue a long-lasting repair to the dam.

Special town meeting Dec. 18

A public hearing will be held Dec. 4 on a lease/purchase agreement for the Knox Mill and Knowlton Street parking lots for public parking, and the establishment of a town charter commission. On Dec. 18, a special town meeting will be held for voters on the parking and charter commission, and on a proposed180-day moratorium on inland waterway moorings,

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