, Derry, New Hampshire

January 24, 2013

Group tries to save Adams Pond and dam

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — The Adams Pond and its dam remain on the minds of many, hoping to make sure the waters and its history remain safe.

A grassroots group of citizens is meeting regularly to forge a plan to save the privately owned dam and its 24-acre pond.

Town councilors said no to a possible deal with dam owner and developer Jean Gagnon to take town ownership of the dam. But residents didn’t remain silent about what they hoped would happen to the historic dam and its pond.

Several meetings have already been held by the group, which calls itself SAP, Save Adams Pond.

The dam is failing and the state told Gagnon he had to figure out his plan for the dam by December 2014. That could mean fixing the structure to meet state dam standards or removing it altogether.

Gagnon is also planning a subdivision, Deer Run at Adams Pond, nearby.

Since the town said no to any dam deal, a core group of SAP supporters is meeting to see if maybe they could somehow take ownership of the dam, raise money and keep the pond intact.

Many say if the dam goes away, the pond may go with it.

At a meeting last week, N.H. Department of Environmental Services and its state Merrimack Watershed supervisor Steve Landry came to give details of what Manchester did when it removed its dam at Maxwell Pond.

“Manchester had to make a decision,” Landry said. “It was for safety, flooding, economics.”

Once the dam was removed, water remained, fish flourished and flora grew, Landry said.

“People thought it would all be a barren wasteland,” he said. “But it’s a lush habitat out there at Maxwell Pond.”

Hearing Manchester’s success story didn’t quell everyone’s concerns about what might happen to Adams Pond if the dam goes away.

“I don’t think this is going to be enough water for Beaver Lake,” SAP member Ellie Sarcione told Landry. “I don’t think there will be enough coming down, flowing through.”

Landry said the same amount of water would remain if the dam was removed, it would just flow differently.

“I just think it will be a big mess out there,” Sarcione said. “I need a better understanding of why you think there won’t be damage done.”

Town historian Richard Holmes attends meetings regularly and said he sees Adams Pond and its dam from a more historical view.

He quoted a Derry News article from 1948, reporting the first waterfowl refuge in the state was located at Adams Pond.

“The state recognized Adams Pond in 1948 as a special place,” Holmes said. “This adds to the credibility of saving the beavers and the salamanders.”

The group will continue to meet to plan its fundraising efforts and how to get the word out about saving the pond.

The Save Adams Pond group has a Facebook page for anyone wanting to learn more. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. in the municipal center’s second-floor meeting room.