Plymouth will be asked to invest in its waterways at the Fall Town Meeting Oct. 19, with a number of capital requests.
PLYMOUTH – Plymouth will be asked to invest in its waterways at the Fall Town Meeting Oct. 19, with a number of capital requests.
Marine and Environmental Affairs Director David Gould went before the Select Board last week with several capital requests of the environmental and waterways variety, including $77,000 for engineering and permitting to repair the Jenney Pond Dam and $101,000 to dredge Jenney Pond, $75,000 to remove sediment from the Holmes Dam project, $75,000 for a new Harbormaster boat and $140,000 for new floats and gangways for Plymouth Harbor, not to mention $28,977 for a Savery Pond Watershed study.
Much of the funding would be sourced from the Environmental Affairs Fund and the Waterways Account.
Here’s a breakdown of the requests.
$77,000 for Jenny Pond dam engineering and permitting for repair
Last winter, the state dropped a bombshell on Plymouth, giving the town until July 31 to repair the Russell Pond Dam, deemed a significant hazard dam, or face $5,000-per-day fines for every day the dam was not in compliance. The project cost $400,000.
Gould noted that Jenney Pond Dam has the same status, and the town must put the wheels in motion to engineer and permit this repair as well, as the state is likely to send a similar terse notification to Plymouth about this dam. The price? Gould said $77,000 from the Environmental Affairs Fund should cover the cost of engineering and permitting for the repair, but he’ll have to come back to Town Meeting for the repair itself.
$101,000 for engineering and permitting for dredging of Jenney Pond
Gould explained that Jenney Pond is an artificial pond create by the Jenney Pond Dam and sediment has built up behind the dam.
He said the pond hasn’t been dredged since 1968, and with 20 years of dam removals upstream, it needs to be dredged to improve water quality, habitat and aesthetics in the park. More than 12,000 cubic yards of sediment has already been removed from upstream ponds as a result of the dam removals there.
“Beginning the process now allows us to get started on design and permitting and to be concurrent with the engineering and design of dam repairs,” he explained. “The two projects are closely related and it makes sense to keep both projects aligned in terms of schedule.”
The entire dredging project will cost $1 million, Gould said, and is crucial to preserving the water quality of Jenney Pond, with plans to complete the dredging sometime in 2022. If the pond isn’t dredged, the water level will rise and overflow the banks, the water quality will be negatively impacted and the pond will be transformed into a scrub-shrub wetland, he said. In short, that would be the end of the pond as we know it; it would have to be called something else.
It’s not yet clear how much material needs to be removed. Gould guestimated between 15,000 and 25,0000 cubic yards need to go.
$75,000 for Holmes Dam sediment
Finding a home for dredged sediment from the Holmes Dam project, like other dredging projects, is challenging. Gould said it is increasingly difficult to find disposal sites for contaminated sediments, and when a site is found, the disposal cost can be staggering. This request is for $75,000 from the Environmental Affairs Fund to truck and dispose of this sediment. He noted that the money would be returned to the account if it is not needed.
$28,976.50 from the EA fund and $10,000 from the Savery Pond Association for a Savery Pond Watershed Study
Savery Pond has been the site of toxic cyanobacteria blooms in the past few years, Gould said. Funding this study would identify and set in motion recommendations for water quality improvements. Cyanobacteria has been linked to human illnesses and dog and fish deaths. Some experts suggest global warming is to blame for the increased occurrence of these toxic algae blooms. Town Meeting will be asked to spend $28,976.50 from the Environmental Affairs Fund to pay for the study, which should also receive $10,000 from the Savery Pond Association as well.
$140,000 for new floats and gangways for Plymouth Harbor
Harbormaster Chad Hunter said this funding is important to ensure that waterfront activities in 2020 are safe. Seven tall ships are on the horizon for this 400th Commemoration.
“We want to make sure there is safe and easy access for residents and visitors to see these ships,” he added.
Precinct 3 Rep. Richard Barbieri asked if there were a liability issue since the proposed gangways are not handicapped accessible. Hunter noted that none of the existing gangways are handicapped accessible either and said he’s not sure if this accessibility issue leaves the town legally vulnerable. The Select Board asked that Hunter look into the possible ramifications of this issue.
$300,000 for a new harbormaster patrol boat
Harbormaster Chad Hunter said $225,000 of this request is a 2019 FEMA Port Security Grant the town received in August, as long as Plymouth ponies up a 25 percent match of $75,000. So, the request is actually for $75,000, and to authorize use of the grant.
The funds would be used to replace two aging patrol boats with a new patrol boat, Hunter said. The 2002 24-foot rigid hull inflatable and 2006 29-foot Donzi patrol boat are both in disrepair, he added. The 2002 rigid hull inflatable has 9,000 hours of use, has deck rot and needs to be repowered. The transom is also cracked. Meanwhile, the Donzi needs to be repowered as well.
Hunter said auctioning them would capture about $10,000 to $15,000 for the rigid hull and roughly $30,000 to $45,000 for the Donzi.
“With the auction money in and the $75,000 match, we will get close to breaking even on the deal,” he said. “The town hasn’t funded a replacement vessel since 2004.”
The hope is to have the new boat in time for 2020. Hunter noted that the new boat is designed to pull up to other boats without damaging them, and its low sides allow for easier rescues.
The Select Board voted unanimously to recommend Town Meeting approve of all these requests.