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Selectmen's Meeting 11.13.18 - Dams!!

by Mary Greendale
November 14, 2018

Selectmen heard from representatives of Lenard Engineering, Inc., about the condition of dams and the price tag for repairs for the worst.

Repair Houghton Pond Dam
The Houghton Pond dam (photo below), built in 1898, is in the worst condition of four dams discussed at the Selectmen’s meeting. Houghton Pond is located behind Dunkin Donuts and runs roughly parallel with Concord Street to Queens. Also discussed were the Factory Pond Dam (built in1873), the Lake Winthrop Dam (1966), and the one at Weston Pond (1970).

Following a presentation by Lenard Engineering representatives, David Battista and Doug Bush, the Selectmen voted to approve funding $40,000 for Lenard to prepare the Phase II report for the state regarding Houghton Pond.  These funds were appropriated at previous Town Meetings, because they were identified as at risk of failure by the state.

The very rough estimate to rebuild the dam, after the report is done, is about $591,000. Because overflow is a threat to houses and businesses from Houghton’s Pond to Fiske Street, the Selectmen agreed that it should be on the spring warrant for the Annual Town Meeting.

They also will include this dam as their #1 request on their “wish list” for Senator Spilka. The Senator asks her communities to provide guidance into what major expenses they are facing and need state assistance for. In the case of dams, all towns are required to take care of dams – but it is an unfunded mandate for which the state offers no money.

The $40,000 study will look at the entire watershed and using Geographic Information Systems data, the engineers will delineate the drainage area and do computer model predictions to determine sizes of spillways and the overtopping danger. The goal is to design the spillway to accept the flood without water going over the top.

The other three dams will have inspections done as well. All of these dams must be replaced eventually with Factory and Lake Winthrop being the next most important and Weston the least of the four. That determination is made in large part on the basis of risk to people or property. A flood can do a lot of damage without much warning, engineers warned.

This photo (right) is the overflowing Houghton's Pond in 2005.

Tree Warden Appointed
The Selectmen interviewed three candidates for Tree Warden, including Sean Reese, DPW Director. Reese spent a year pursuing the requisite credentials, certifications and licenses through the Tree Wardens Association with the goal of becoming Warden. He was the only candidate with all requirements in-hand.

Reese explained that he is already involved in tree work and that he wants to create an inventory and five-year plan for tree management, care and planting of new trees. He said he is excited to get a program going, and Selectman Cronin asked him to see if he can identify any ways to generate funds to cover some of the costs, perhaps by selling wood for boards or firewood.

Jay Marsden praised Reese highly for his work at the DPW and said, “Your safe, calming way brought organization to chaos in the Water Department, and I can finally sleep at night.” Then he voiced concern about piling on too much work on Reese’s “admittedly gigantic shoulders.” In the end, everyone agreed that there would be measurables and at annual reviews, everyone would discuss where things might not be working. All members voiced confidence in his abilities. 

Mudville Residents
Brad Lingham of Union Street appealed to the Board to demonstrate a bigger interest in their plight, as the traffic speeds and volume are a huge safety concern. He said that he did not think it was “on their radar as a critical agenda item.” He also asked, “What is the drawback of lowering speeds?”

Selectman Cronin said that he understood where Mr. Lingham was coming from but he disagreed with some of what Lingham said, and believed that the BOS is interested. “If you wait just a while longer, I think you will see that the Town is working with you.”

The traffic study done by McMahon Associates is being reviewed by the Police Department, and this subject will be on the Selectmen’s agenda on Monday the 19th. The study will be available on the Town website.

PO Roofing was awarded the contract to install the roof on the 1750 Building where Parks & Rec Department is located. The cost is $188,000.

The Town Administrator will create a “charge” for a new committee that will focus on potential uses and level of interest in the building at 9 Green Street, behind the abandoned Gulf Station downtown.

Pat Gipps of Shaw Farm Road asked the BOS to review the current arrangement that Holliston has with the Town of Ashland for Animal Control Services. Gipps suggested that with over 107 loose dogs, and multiple maulings and killings by dogs, it may be time to review whether we need more than a part time position. The Board agreed to take that under advisement.



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Comments (8)

Sounds like the Highway Dept guy is double dipping.

- antonia clark | 11/23/18 10:54 AM

Mike p. As I understood it, Ben used to have both the licenses/certifications but they expired 8 years ago. The advertised job description said that these were required upon hiring. Mr Reese has both. (MG)

- Mary Greendale | 11/15/18 10:55 PM

Can anyone explain how this tree warden went down watched it on tv and clearly the Ben fella had the Experience and the knowledge so I'm just curious how someone like that doesn't get the job so because he didn't have one of the 2 things that supposedly were required And Sean only had 1 of the 2 thing requires the town just gives it to a water guy??

- Mike p | 11/14/18 7:12 PM

Seems to me the ponds and lakes are good insurance in case of fire.

- Herb Krauss | 11/14/18 1:48 PM

I would suggest that the dam study also address removing the Houghtons Pond dam and returning the area to its natural state... end of problems.

- Ben Clarkson | 11/14/18 1:26 PM

I'm sure you're right, Bob. The engineers provided the dates but they may have been using the date of most recent repairs or improvements and I got that wrong. TY

Jeff: I'm no engineer but if we released all the water in all these water bodies, where would it go? Seems to me that there'd be lots of property loss.

- Mary Greendale | 11/14/18 9:05 AM

The dam at Lake Winthrop was constructed in 1942

- Bobby Blair | 11/14/18 8:36 AM

Probably a foolish question,but why do we need the dams? Wouldn't it be free flowing stream without the dam and that could alleviate flooding?

- Jeff | 11/14/18 8:31 AM



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