The Clary Lake Association has completed repairs to the Clary Lake Dam that have restored the lake’s water level after several years of low levels and frustration for lakefront property owners.
Pease Construction Services of Skowhegan completed the repairs in two stages for a contract price of $26,200, according to George Fergusson, secretary of the Clary Lake Association.
Work on the repairs started Nov. 5, came to a halt due to the amount of rain and the lack of permission from an abutter to build a cofferdam, or temporary dam. Work resumed Dec. 10 and was complete Dec. 23.
The repairs began with sealing the upstream face of the dam from leaking by spraying concrete on the dam, Fergusson said.
The second phase of repairs was to install a weir to help regulate the water level. Previously, someone had to manually open and close a gate near the dam to regulate the lake’s water level.
Fergusson said using a gate takes more time, because someone needs to open or close depending on anticipated precipitation. The gate also does not allow much water to flow out. The weir only requires logs to fill the gap in the dam and regulate the water flow.
The association could not get permission from AquaFortis Associates LLC to build a cofferdam in order to complete the second phase of repairs in November.
Richard Smith, the sole member of AquaFortis Associates LLC, continues to own the old mill house on top of the dam. AquaFortis Associates LLC also continues to own the Clary Mill building across Route 218 from the dam and a 1-acre parcel of land next to the dam.
The contractor waited for the water level to go down after heavy rains in November and completed the second phase of work in December.
Fergusson said an underground gasoline storage tank on the property was removed, as well as vegetation that was growing out of the dam itself.
“I am elated; I am thrilled,” Fergusson said of the completion of repairs. “This is a culmination of seven years of my life.”
Fergusson said dry hydrants planned for the dam site and the intersection of Route 215 and Route 126 in Jefferson were not installed.
The association was too busy and there was too much equipment around the dam site to both install the hydrants and repair the dam before winter.
However, Fergusson said the association intends to install the hydrants, possibly in spring 2019. He said the hydrants will cost a few thousand dollars each.
The association first had Linkel Construction Inc. of Topsham lined up to repair the dam, Fergusson said. The estimated cost of the repairs was $35,500.
However, the plan Linkel proposed would have required considerable environmental permitting, Fergusson said. Linkel backed out of the deal when the association looked for another approach to the repairs.
The association raised funds to pay for the repairs. In 2018, the association raised about $135,000. Of that money, it used $80,000 to buy the dam, $17,000 for legal fees, and $26,200 for repairs.
Some money is left over.
“Having a little money in our war chest is helpful … I expect we’ll find reasonable things to do with it,” Fergusson said.
The association received the deed to the dam Oct. 12, after seven years of legal wrangling. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the sale in an oral ruling Sept. 28.
Paul Kelley, the sole member of Pleasant Pond Mill LLC, previously held the deed to the dam.
The dam is on Clary Lake, a great pond in Whitefield and Jefferson, according to the website for the Clary Lake Association. Clary Lake is part of the Sheepscot River watershed.
Fergusson has filed paperwork to transfer the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s water-level order from Pleasant Pond Mill LLC to the association.
The order directed Kelley to fix the deteriorating dam, which was breached during Hurricane Irene in 2011. Since then, the water level has dropped as much as 5 feet, Fergusson said.
DEP approved the transfer Dec. 11. Fergusson said the water-level order is a permanent measure set by the DEP.
The association has a momentum committee that will plan a celebratory event. Fergusson said the event will likely take place in the spring.