Finding a solution for Mayo Mill Dam

To the Editor;

Every town has historical attributes that define and sustain its character. In Dover-Foxcroft, these include buildings like the old Observer building with its unique roof line, the Center Theatre, Central Hall Commons and yes, the Mayo Mill Dam. This specific town asset had added value as it once produced electric power from renewable energy that could be used or sold for revenue.

There has been an extensive process by the Town of Dover-Foxcroft leadership to find a solution to the problems at the Mayo Mill Dam site. These problems include a dam and fishway structure that are due for refurbishment and updating, a hydroelectric generator and powerhouse that have deteriorated to the point of being useless, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after being patient for many years now mandating the town find a solution to these problems ASAP.

The dam and fishway infrastructure were refurbished in 1980. This work will typically last 40-50 years.  It should be no surprise that this work needs to be accomplished again as we are in year 44. The town has put no monies aside in a reserve account through these years, so there are no funds available to help accomplish this work. 

The hydroelectric generator and powerhouse have different problems. The timeline that has led to the demise of this federally regulated project is very interesting, but suffice it to say that lack of proactive management of this town asset over the past 16 years is the root cause.

So here we are as taxpayers with town assets that require millions of dollars for refurbishment. A town team was assembled to investigate and recommend future actions. This team partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Maine and the Atlantic Salmon Federation to help find solutions to the Mayo Mill site refurbishment problems. It should be no surprise that the final recommendation of the team is not to refurbish, but rather remove the dam.

Whether you wish to retain the dam or remove it, the solution to resolve these problems is funding. There are only two options available to us as taxpayers. 

  1. The ASF and TNC will help find grants and private donors to pay for all the work needed to remove the entire dam site infrastructure. There may also be some minimal monies available for dam modifications and “nice to haves” like kayak launches, a park, a river walk, etc.
  2. If we choose any options with respect to saving the dam as is, the funding needs to be acquired through the town’s own search efforts. If no outside funding through grants or donors is found, then the cost will fall back to the taxpayers. Currently there is no effort by this project team to secure this funding.

I suspect more information on taxpayer impacts is forthcoming as the funding effort is critical to the taxpayers of our town and requires town leadership to accomplish it.

Steve Robinson


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