Deepening fire pond to cost $100K-plus

MOUNT DESERT — Voters at town meeting next spring likely will be asked to authorize spending more than $100,000 to dredge the fire pond next to Route 3 in Otter Creek.

“Over the last 10 years, the pond has essentially shrunk in size horizontally and vertically due to siltation and subsequent growth of vegetation,” public works director Tony Smith said in a recent memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt.

“We need to dredge it to keep a very valuable source of fire suppression water available to us.”

The town hired Hedefine Engineering and Design of Ellsworth nearly two years ago to investigate the amount of dredging that would be needed, prepare an application for a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit, and determine what could be done with the dredged materials.

The town has already spent $25,371 for those services. Almost exactly half of that amount went for sampling and analysis of the material to be dredged to make sure it could be safely taken to the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town.

In all of the samples tested to date, “the only detectable compounds found…were arsenic, barium, chromium, lead and mercury, and sulfide reactivity, all of which were well below landfill acceptable limits,” Mr. Smith said in his memo.

The board of selectmen Monday night authorized paying Hedefine up to $3,500 more to finalize plans for the dredging project and to solicit competitive bids on behalf of the town.

The estimated cost of dredging is $111,000 to $116,500, which includes $6,000 for Hedefine’s “contract administration and inspection services.”

The total cost could rise toward the upper end of the estimate if Juniper Ridge decides that too much time has passed since the original analysis of samples from the pond. In that case, new samples would need to be taken and tested.

“Hedefine does not anticipate that this will be required, but there is a remote possibility,” Smith said.

Fire Chief Mike Bender told the selectmen that if voters approve the expenditure of funds for the fire pond dredging at town meeting in May, the work could start late next summer or early fall.

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]