Town Meeting: Casco supports bus service, blueprints for dam

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — The approval of municipal funds to keep the Lakes Region Bus service operating went off without a hitch.

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

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 closer to 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 Morton.

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.

“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.

This year’s appropriation of funds will cover the costs of being ready to put the project out to bid by the time the 2016 Town Meeting is scheduled, Morton said.

He clarified that the proposed funding in the budget would pay for the “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.”

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

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

Morton responded. “Your observation is accurate. We are worried about a big storm,” Morton 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,” he 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 the 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 the 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%. The total municipal budget for this fiscal year is $3,066,382.

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 a video-audio recording of the Casco Town Meeting, check out the Town of Casco website or Lake Region Television’s webpage

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