Camden Select Board of Directors Invites the Public to Harbor Park for a Site Walk and Meguntiicook River Report Workshop


CAMDEN – Weather permitting, Camden Select’s board of directors is hosting a public workshop in Harbor Park on October 14th and inviting the consultants, engineers and scientists who participated in a multi-year management review of the Megunticook River , which includes the idea of ​​removing the dam from Montgomery, at the head of the port of Camden.

The latter has been controversial, and the city is trying an outdoor workshop approach to engage audiences. Inviting public actors outside and on site, instead of meeting in a conference room or auditorium, offers more opportunities for a contextual conversation.

“There is an advantage to having people in the environment of whatever topic you are discussing,” said Select board chairman Bob Falciani. “It allows people to be interactive. A lot of people don’t like to ask questions in a formal meeting. They are more likely to ask pointed questions when they are one-on-one or one-on-one.

The public workshop will be held on Thursday, October 14, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., with the various consultants at their own tables, to provide information or presentations. The rainy date will be Wednesday, October 20, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

While the removal of the Montgomery Dam has been the most debated, it is only part of a larger Megunticook River outbreak, as explained in the page over 200 Feasibility report on the Megunticook river. The recommendations also include the removal of the Knox Mill Dam.

This report, published on July 31, 2021, was prepared by Inter-Fluve, a firm which, for its part, says on its website, “Specializes in the survey, design and restoration of rivers, lakes, estuaries and wetlands,” and engineering firm Rockport Gartley and Dorsky.

Funding for the report from a $ 139,000 National Coastal Resilience Fund Scholarship 2019.

The main objective of the report was to: “Identify and implement river management options for the Megunticook River that improve flood resilience and community, restore habitat connectivity and ecosystem health. , reduce infrastructure management needs and enrich community values ​​and experiences through improved public access and use, educational value, city history recognition and landscape aesthetics.

Falciani said presenters will be spread across the top of Harbor Park and for those in the audience who find it difficult to walk on grass or slopes, the city “will have to adapt.”

He said there will be chairs there for those who want to sit.

An on-site outdoor workshop approach to speaking with the public “is common and organized all over the world,” Falciani said. “The only downside, of course, is the weather. “

The workshop follows months, if not years, of increasingly frequent conversations about dams along the Megunticook River and the removal of the Montgomery Dam, which sits at the head of Camden’s Inner Harbor, where the river flows into the ocean.

The dam was built in 1771, according to a brief history of the Camden dams which is included in the Megunticook River Feasibility Report. He first supported a flour mill, and later, an anchor factory. Rebuilt in the 1930s, it was used for hydropower in the 1980s.

“The dam was transferred from the Montgomery family to the city in 1993, which operates the dam during rainfall events to prevent flooding of lower levels of buildings above the small dam,” the report said. “More details on the history of the Montgomery Dam and its surroundings are provided in the Feasibility study 2019 (Inter ‐ Fluve and Gartley & Dorsky). ”

This 2019 study “found that the dam dramatically increases the risk of flooding in the city center while creating the first in a series of fish passage barriers for species such as alewife, blueback herring , the anadromous brook trout and the American eel, “the 2021 study said. “The study also found that removing the dam would be the cheapest option for the city over the next 50 years and would be the most likely to receive outside funding from environmental organizations and state and federal agencies in due to increased flood protection and access to habitat.

With a planning grant of $ 40,000 from the Maine Coastal Program 2020, the city proceeded with the engineering and design of plans for the partial or complete removal of the Montgomery Dam and the reconfiguration of the sea wall and area. adjacent in Camden Harbor Park.

“The project will result in a final design of the modifications to the Montgomery Dam and the reconfiguration of the adjacent sea wall and adjacent Harbor Park area to improve resistance to coastal and inland flooding and the passage of fish and other fish. species from Camden Harbor to Megunticook ”says the Maine Coastal Program, in its explanation money to spend. “Overall, this project is a critical step in dealing with more frequent storm surges and improving the health of the entire watershed. “

Although there have been a growing number of different voices supporting the removal of the dam for various ecological reasons, including fishing.

“Native fish have been documented in large numbers below Montgomery Falls, but unfortunately the upstream passage is blocked directly above the falls by the Montgomery Dam,” wrote Tom Johnson, president of the Maine chapter of the Native Fish Coalition. “This includes river herring, American eels, and anadromous brook trout, a diadromous life form known as salt shakers.”

But there has also been growing opposition to the removal of the dam by residents.

At the end of July 2021, the Save the Dam Committee organized and declared its members were: “Concerned that Camden Town officials have failed to maintain the dam and have not expressed concern or respect for the value the waterfall continues to bring to Camden.” The group believes that city officials have also not offered Camden residents a public hearing or a range of options regarding the dam’s future.

The committee said its goal was to preserve the heritage and beauty at the head of Camden Harbor by giving Camden residents the choice of preserving both the Montgomery Dam and the Olmsted Harbor Park design.

The Save the Dam committee also maintains a Save the Dam Falls Facebook page.

There is also an independent survey disseminated by Emily Lusher on the The survey is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V3SV6ZG and can be completed on a computer, tablet or phone. Hard copies are available at Camden Deli, Smiling Cow, Marriners, Leather Bench and Mahogany Salon. The investigation is open until today, October 12.

Because the Camden Dam and Falls are intimately linked with Harbor Park, owned by the Camden Public Library, the library established a special committee in 2021.

The Trustees of the Camden Public Library were given the power, authority and duty to manage and control the Library, Amphitheater, Harbor Park and all related to it, as stipulated in the original donation to the inhabitants of Camden by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, according to a March 2021 release.

Representatives of the library had met with selected members of the board, and in its public statement the library said: may or may not have a solution. Our job is not to decide on the dam, but to establish benchmarks to approve any plan for the Montgomery dam. “

These benchmarks included preserving Olmsted’s original design, making the park even more user-friendly, and having the city “actively engage with the public on these issues and showcase alternative designs for the Montgomery Dam, the mouth of the river, Harbor Park, and the head of the harbor.

The City Council and City Manager have been firm in their commitment to advance the assessment of the Megunticook River and declare:, and finally the voters of the City. No decision has been made and your input will help us determine the next steps in the process. At this point, we know that the dam and dike require significant investment and that doing nothing is not an option. Large grants are available for projects that restore habitat, reduce storm risk, and implement nature-based solutions that require little or no maintenance.


Contact Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at [email protected]; 207-706-6657


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