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Bill rolling on water wheel work in Pembroke 2-21-14

Mark Burridge

Wicked Local Pembroke
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Posted Feb. 21, 2014 @ 7:00 am

When Selectman Chairman Bill Boulter was a teenager a huge storm hit Pembroke. The water rapidly rose and the Herring Run was submerged. The old water wheel was also casualty of the storm; it broke free and washed down stream to Cedar Swamp.
Boulter said remembers trudging through the swamp with Superintendent of Fisheries Buddy Tool and picking up the dislodged wheel. The two of them hauled the wheel back to Tool's house on Vallon Street.
Now, nearly 50 years later Boutler wants to bring a water wheel back to the Herring Run and make other improvements to the park. And he's enlisted State. Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury, to help.
"We filed a bill in at the State House," Boulter said. "It passed the House and now it's going into the Senate."
The legislation for the Herring Run project is an amendment added to the Transportation Bond Bill. It seeks $100,000 in funding for a survey of the area and engineering studies to repair the bridge and make it handicapped accessible, install a fish ladder and return a water wheel to the Herring Run.
Cutler filed the bill, which passed the House on Jan. 30.
"This is just the first step, but it's certainly good news for Pembroke, Cutler said. "Credit Selectman Bill Boulter for his advocacy on this."
The bill must still pass in the Senate and will need the governor's approval before any funding would be available for the work.
But before the water wheel can roll again, Boulter said the bridge will have to be repaired.
"We want to repair the bridge because the engineer said it was eventually going to go," he said. "There's no sense in putting the wheel there and having the bridge go."
Making the bridge and Herring Run accessible to all is another big part of the project.
"The Pembroke Disabilities Commission wants the area to be handicapped accessible," he said. "Right now, it's not."
Boulter said planning for the area would include a walkway leading to the bridge, and a small fish ladder placed next to wheel to assist in herring migration.
And if the bill passes and the project is funded, Boulter's push to return the water wheel will have Conservation Commission support...this time.
That wasn't the case a few years back during the town's 300th anniversary celebration. At that time Boulter chaired the Water Wheel Committee and had received the go ahead to have a replica wheel created to use it as a display during the town celebration. Trouble arose when the replica wheel was put in the water on the Herring Run without proper permitting. The commission ordered the wheel pulled from the water to protect the fish at the time.
But today commission members are on board with a plan to return a water wheel to its original spot in the Herring Run.
"We're in favor of putting the wheel where it originally was," Pembroke Conservation Agent Bob Clarke said. "I think we're all on the same page now."

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