Casco turns to contingency fund for dam study

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — A hydrologic survey, which will dictate the options for repairing the Pleasant Lake-Parker Pond dam, could have cost the Town of Casco an extra $200 — if it was proposed to voters at a Special Town Meeting this winter.

But, the Casco Board of Selectmen decided to take a cue from Otisfield and use money from the town’s existing Contingency Fund.

On Tuesday, the board was unified in a vote to move $4,500 from that emergency fund set aside to cover things the town did not count on during the budget process. It is a savings account for unexpected expenses.

Selectman Tom Peaslee said, “I’d be in favor of using the Contingency Fund to pay for it. That is what it is there for.”

The two towns bordering the lake and benefiting from the dam, Casco and Otisfield, will split the costs for the hydrologic study.

The total cost is $9,000. As part of the bid paperwork, the firm awarded the job agreed not to exceed that amount. The bid includes any repair or replacement of the existing dam to keep water levels up until the towns land on a long-term solution.

Therefore, each town would pay $4,500 for this phase of the project.

As per the bid paperwork, “engineering invoices will be sent following 50% and 100% of the construction.”

Selectman Holly Hancock served on the two-town subcommittee tasked with finding a fix for the dam. The subcommittee selected MBP Consulting, Inc., to do the work. MBP has agreed to start the job next month, and plans to have it wrapped up sometime in April, Hancock said.

By spring, the towns will be provided with options and costs to replace the faulty dam.

The costs to rebuild or repair the dam will most likely appear as a warrant item at the Town Meeting in June. If the money is approved for the construction phase of the project, work can begin in the summer.

That is why elected town officials have kept this project on a timeline.

Hancock stressed that the dam is infrastructure that cannot be ignored.

“This isn’t an elective issue. We have potential noncompliance with (Department of Environmental Protection) the DEP,” she said.

Prior to the board’s vote to allocate money from the contingency fund, it discussed whether or not to hold a Special Town Meeting.

Town Manager Dave Morton said, “The issue that is most pressing is the Pleasant Lake dam issue. The (revised) barking dog ordinance can wait” until June’s Town Meeting.

“If the board feels it is important to go to a Special Town Meeting” that could be scheduled, he said.

Hancock asked what it costs the town to hold a special town meeting.

Morton said it costs $200 for warrants and staff time. If the town sends mailers to all Casco residents, it bumps up the expense by another few hundred dollars, he said.

The board debated whether or not the dam was a “hot button issue” for people in the community.

Hancock said she had heard nothing from residents, except for the selectmen and those folks who regularly attend board meetings.

Chairman Grant Plummer said he did not think this initial phase has people concerned. However, Plummer said residents will want to weigh in on costs and proposals for the future dam, which is why that next step will go to Town Meeting at summer’s onset.

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