Dover-Foxcroft Select Board approves dam removal referendum question

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Last month the Dover-Foxcroft Select Board voted to accept a recommendation from

the Mayo Mill Dam steering committee that removing the dam and connecting facilities and building a riverfront park is in the town’s best interests moving forward.

Reducing flooding dangers, improving the area’s ecology, including fish passage, and the availability of funding for dam removal were among the main reasons for the committee’s conclusion. The board also voted in February to place a question on the June referendum ballot pertaining to the project concerning the acceptance of grant funds as a way to gauge if residents favor the plan or not.

A 4-page, approximate 1,600-word resolution explaining in detail the issues of the dam, with historical context of the recent process and reiterating the Feb. 26 vote was approved by the select board at its meeting on Monday, March 25.

Bangor Daily News photo/Linda Coan O’Kresik
DOWNTOWN DAM — The Mayo Mill Dam in downtown Dover-Foxcroft. The select board has approved an in-depth resolution concerning the removal of the dam and a question on the project will be on the June referendum ballot.

The June referendum question, explaining what yes and no votes mean, was also approved at the meeting following an executive session. The full warrant article is available at the Friends of Dover-Foxcroft Facebook page.

“This resolution states the vote the board took on Feb. 26, it’s more detailed and descriptive,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said. “Really just restating what’s on the record but with context.”

“I like that it does a nice job giving the history,” Select Vice Chairperson Cindy Freeman Cyr.

The resolution states the select board ultimately voted to accept the recommendation of the steering committee recognizing the varying economic, social, and environmental factors at stake across the range of options, but ultimately concluded that removal of the Mayo Mill Dam presented the most responsible option in the best interests of the community based on technical, legal, and economic considerations.

The document says removal would cost between $6 and $6.5 million with grant funds while fixing the structure to be in compliance with FERC regulations would be $7.5 to $8 million with local taxes as the funding source. Both options are explained in detail in the warrant article explanatory note.

A public hearing on the referendum question will be held during a select board meeting later in the spring prior to the vote.

If approved and grant funds are able to be secured, the dam project would follow a 6- to 8-year timeline. There would be a needed detailed project design that would take about a year to complete. There also would be a funding search with project partners looking into various sources.

The steering committee looked at the dam site at the present time with the potential millions of dollars in funding opportunities for revitalization as part of the larger downtown. Dover-Foxcroft is working on adjacent projects concerning vehicle movement and pedestrian access for sustainable long-term solutions. There is also money available to mitigate the flood issues caused by the dam.

In other business Clukey said, “We got some good news on grant funding requests” with the federal funding being approved over the weekend.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced she helped secure  $1,455,000 in Congressionally Directed Spending for the Lincoln Street bridge project in Dover-Foxcroft in the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security appropriations bill. 

“This will be very beneficial so the town doesn’t have to fund it,” Clukey said.

Last month the select board approved a $218,400 proposal from Wright Pierce Engineers for permitting design for the Lincoln Street bridge project, which spans the small stream underneath the western end of Lincoln Street.

At last year’s annual town meeting Clukey said a replacement project would cost close to $2 million with the town having a $200,000 share. Wright Pierce Engineers would have its work done later in the year with construction to take place in 2025.

A stakeholder meeting to the Lincoln Street bridge project, particularly for abutting property owners, will be at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3.

Clukey said the town has been selected as one of several sites for a pilot project on renewable energy at municipal buildings. Dover-Foxcroft will receive $150,000 to $200,000 to pursue a rooftop solar panel system with battery storage.

“This is a significant project that would result in a lot of cost savings for this building,” Clukey said.

The select board also approved a meeting date change for April. With next month having five Mondays, the board will be meeting on Monday, April 29, after the annual town meeting on the morning of Saturday, April 27.

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