Casco supports bus service, blueprints for dam

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO – The approval of municipal budget funds to keep the Lakes Region Bus service going went off without a hitch.

The vast majority of voters at Casco Town Meeting wanted to keep on the road the rural bus service that runs from Naples to Portland with stops in Casco, Raymond, and Windham.

In fact, Warrant Article 14, which allocated $9,600 to the Lakes Region Bus, did not draw any discussion or comment, except from resident Peg Dilley.

Dilley spoke after a brief explanation of the line item from Casco Town Manager Dave Morton.

“I strongly urge all the townspeople to support this for our elderly and our people who cannot drive anymore. This keeps them in our communities,” Dilley said.

People without transportation sometimes are forced to move to Portland so they can be near necessary resources.

“This will allow people to remain in their communities,” Dilley said.

Someone in the audience shouted, “Hear, Hear!”

Likewise, funding for the first phase of repairing the Pleasant Lake-Parker Pond Dam received residents’ support.

Most of the discussion about Warrant Article 13 could be categorized as information gathering by the crowd.

Basically, the responsibility of the dam is shared by Casco and the neighboring town of Otisfield, according to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said.

In order to actually repair or replace the dam, detailed engineering plans must exist.

Therefore, this year, residents considered the least costly part of the project, which is to develop final design plans and bid documents.

The total cost is $64,000, with the towns of Casco and Otisfield each raising $32,000.

“What we hope to do is to have construction information by Town Meeting next year, in 2016,” Morton said.

“This is the next step, and we need to do this next step to get competitive bids and know where the costs (of repairing the dam) are going to lie,” he said.

Responding to questions from the public, Morton said a feasibility study had already been done as well as hydrology studies.

He clarified that the proposed funding in the budget would pay for “actual design” which will include “how deep the cement will be, how thick the cement will be, how the spill gate opens, and how the coffer dams will be built.”

The requested money will cover the costs of being ready to put the project out to bid by the time next year’s Town Meeting is scheduled, Morton said.

Speaking in favor of spending money to ultimately preserve the aged, failing dam, an audience member stepped forward.

“We need to do this because Mother Nature” might provide a storm that could ultimately breach the dam, he said.

Morton responded.

“Your observation is accurate. We are worried about a big storm,” he said.

The feasibility study indicated that “the current location is the best place to put it. It was originally a gate dam then a sluice dam,” Morton said.

The existing dam releases 89 cubic feet of water per second, but during high-water or rainstorm conditions, the dam would need to release 200 cubic feet of water per second, he said.

Resident Rick Thorpe asked how many dams the town is responsible for.

Morton replied that town has ownership of one other dam in addition to the shared ownership of the Pleasant Lake Parker Pond dam.

“We have financially supported the Oxford Dam on Thomas Lake,” he said.

“The other dam we own is on Coffee Pond. It is two 8-inch planks. It will need” some updating in the future, Morton said.

Also, the town was given rights by the property owners to “control the weir at Webb’s Mills pond,” he said.

During Town Meeting on June 10, Casco residents passed the budget in its entirety. According to Morton, the total increase over last year’s budget is 1.9%.

Increases were seen in the administrative and public safety department. Meanwhile, some social services agencies did not receive the requested amount, and most were flat-funded, Morton said.

To view the Casco Town Meeting, check out the Town of Casco website or Lake Region Television’s webpage.

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