Where Did Kennedy Pond Go? – Answering Your Questions About the Dam Repairs
From Town Manager Tom Marsh:
We had our first on-site meeting with the contractor & engineers this week. Site clearing was done in the anticipation of equipment and supplies arriving. Work should begin in earnest after Memorial Day. The project is expected to take 16 to 20 weeks depending on weather. At this point, we are planning that the Rec. Dept will not be offering swimming in the pond this summer, but we are researching area options and should have news on that front shortly. The reason for the elimination of swimming is that with the pond water level drawn down, there is an immediate steep drop off just beyond the new beach water line creating unsafe conditions. We will be testing the water quality every week just like we do every summer. There is nothing related to the project that should impact water quality.
Why are we doing the project now?
The state controls all bodies of water and there are restrictions on when the pond water drawdown can occur. The restrictions are related to environmental concerns. In addition, the work being done can’t be done in cold weather.
Why will it take so long?
The easiest way to describe the process is that a barge with a big drill and cement hose will be brought in. The drill will be drilling strategically placed holes through the large stones on the face of the dam. The stones are “dry laid” meaning there is no grout binding them together. The drilling process is slow because if cracks develop in the stone during drilling that creates big problems so slow and steady is the rule. Once the hole is drilled it will be filled with a special concrete that will bind the stones together making them more stable.
Why does the water level need to be drawn down so low?
There are a couple of reasons for the low level. First, there will be a barge on the pond and it would be a bad thing if that barge got swept over the dam. The low level gives some room to move things out if heavy rains are predicted. (The pond fills up pretty fast when it really rains). Secondly, water can’t be coming over the spillway while the contractors are doing their work. That said, if we have a dry summer we will be working with the contractors to bring the water level up a bit. As a side note several years we installed an electronic monitoring system that tells us what the water level is and how quickly it is going up or down. So, while you may not see anyone sitting out there watching the water levels, our engineers, emergency management people, and the contractor are all monitoring it to make sure it doesn’t go down farther that we want, or if there are heavy rains, we have enough time to move equipment out.
May I still fish?
Yes! The water flow through the pond is more than enough to keep the fish happy, and with the smaller area catching the fish should be twice as easy! Word has it that there were some pretty big trout stocked this spring.
Why are we doing the project at all?
This is the third project in recent years that focuses on dam repair and maintenance. It is almost 200 years old and it had been decades since any meaningful repair work was done before the current initiative started. In 2012 we repaired the base of the buttress. You can see a concrete “tow” that runs along the bottom of the dam. In 2015 we replaced the gate that is used to draw down the water. This had been inoperable for years. Now we are stabilizing the stone face. This project is costing around $2.75 million and is being paid for with a $1.5 million town bond and a $1.25 million federal grant (increased from an original award of $995,000). Once complete the dam will be in much better shape than it was before Irene hit and hopefully it will be around for another 200 years so future Windsor residents will have a pond to enjoy.
One good thing is we were able to do a great job of cleaning up the beach, and new beach sand will be brought in so when swimming resumes the beach will be in great shape.
This link takes you to a Windsor on Air video that covers this project as well as others taking place around town this summer.