Dufresne Pond Dam slated for demolition

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The Department of Environmental Conservation recently approved an application from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife to destroy the dam. The order could still be appealed to the Environmental Court sometime before March 23, according to Stream Flow Protection Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Conservation, Brian Fitzgerald. However, in a telephone interview on Monday, Fitzgerald said he was unaware of any appeal being filed.

If the order is not appealed to the Environmental Court, Fitzgerald said it is expected that they would remove the dam sometime between July 1 and Sept. 30 of this year.

Once the demolition begins, Fitzgerald said he anticipated it would be about four weeks before work was complete.

According to Fitzgerald, one of the primary issues that they have heard from residents so far centers around the loss of the pond and the return of the Batten Kill to a free flowing stream. The reason for that, he said, is because the pond is currently stocked with fish and is a recreation spot for town residents.

"The type of habitat is going to change. It's going from a pond to a free flowing river, but there will still be public access," said Fitzgerald. "It is still fish and wildlife property and will remain so. The public access will remain."

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The loss of the pond by demolishing the dam would also eliminate a nearby water source for fighting fires in the area, according to Manchester Fire Chief Phil "Grub" Bourn.

Without the pond there as a water source, Bourn said that the fire department would have to connect a hose to a hydrant located on Route 11/30, but that would not interfere with the fire department's ability to effectively fight fires in the neighborhood.

Bourn said the old Peterson Mill or the Town Shed were larger buidlings that would take a lot of water to extinguish. As a result of that, he said that some of the buildings surrounding those structures - particularly the ones near the former Peterson Mill - could be at risk if they caught fire because of the radiant heat they would throw off.

According to previous reports, the proposed demolition of the dam - which was originally built in 1908 and then reconstructed in 1957 - is being considered because of safety issues associated with it.

In a previous interview, Fitzgerald said there is some uncontrolled seepage through the dam, which could create a problem over time. Another problem, Fitzgerald said, is that the spillway capacity of the dam is inadequate and the water periodically overtops, which could erode the dam because it is filled with earth.

Fitzgerald said it is believe the dam was originally constructed to provide water for an industrial operation that used to be located in the area. However, for the past several decades the area has only been used for recreational purposes - primarily as a fishing hole, according to previous reports.


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