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Residents, officials debate pros and cons of Elm Street Dam removal 1-16-16

KINGSTON SELECTMEN: Residents, officials debate pros and cons of Elm Street Dam removal

Wicked Local Kingston

By Kathryn Gallerani
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Posted Jan. 16, 2016 at 6:00 AM

KINGSTON – Once the Elm Street Dam is removed, it can't be undone, and the Jones River won't look the same.
Residents opposed to removing the dam like the river the way it is and want to keep the pond above the dam intact and even worry about the swans that swim there moving on.
Then there are residents like Jones River Watershed Association President Pine duBois who want the dam removed for environmental reasons and due to the condition of the dam and the cost of repairs.
"Climate change is upon us," she said. "We need to be proactive to protect the community."
Later in the discussion Tuesday night during the Board of Selectmen's meeting, she pleaded for serious consideration of protection of the Jones River.
"The river is screaming for attention," she said.
Elm Street resident Lewis Blackman opposes removing the dam. If restoring fish to the Jones River is important, he suggests replacing the fish ladders with a more effective one instead. He also thinks removing the dam would cause flooding.
"If water goes further up the river, the parking lot on Landing Road would be under water," he said.
The estimated $750,000 Stantec Consulting Services said it would cost to remove the dam and restore the site also concerns residents, despite news of grants the town could apply for to offset the cost.
Elm Street resident Fran Botelho-Hoeg said she's torn between wanting to keep the dam and supporting its removal, with cost her primary concern. She, too, suggested repairing the fish ladder as a possible alternative.
"I just think we really need to think this through," she said.
Selectmen also weighed in with their opinions but did not make any decisions. Chairman Elaine Fiore said she has many concerns about removing the dam, including its position as essentially part of the Water Commission building.
Selectman Sandy MacFarlane said she likes the idea of restoring the Jones River to its original path but also wants more information about the cost of removing the dam and other possible alternatives.
Selectman Lindsay Wilson said he also needs more information.
The state Department of Fish and Game's Division of Ecological Restoration has offered its assistance to the town as officials and residents continue to debate the dam's removal.
Follow Kathryn Gallerani on Twitter @kgallreporter.

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