, Derry, New Hampshire

November 29, 2012

Town Council won't reconsider Adams dam deal

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — The Adams dam saga seems to have ended — again.

Even after town councilors voted last month not to take town control of the failing dam, some residents hoped another outcome would save it.

The dam is owned by land developer Jean Gagnon.

Gagnon is planning to build a subdivision near the dam and nearby Adams Pond. He offered to allow the town to take over the dam.

But the town would have to pay whatever it cost to either remove the dam or bring it up to state standards.

The Town Council decided at a meeting Nov. 21 to stick with the decision to stay away from dam ownership.

Town Councilor David Milz made the motion to reconsider.

"I've had further information come to light I would like to explain," Milz said.

That information was never heard as the motion to reconsider was denied.

Councilors Michael Fairbanks and Joel Olbricht voted no; Neil Wetherbee, Brad Benson and David Milz said yes. Brian Chirichiello recused himself once again from the vote as he may have future dealings with Gagnon.

Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores was absent from the meeting.

Town Administrator John Anderson said council rules say a majority vote was needed, or four votes in the affirmative to reconsider, so the motion failed.

If the motion had carried, the Adams Pond dam issue may have returned to a future council agenda.

For residents hoping to somehow save the dam, the news was not good.

Dam supporters Ellie Sarcione and Leslie Seboyer had spearheaded efforts to get citizens on board to raise money to help save the dam.

A fund had been planned to collect private donations from residents hoping for a different outcome.

Chief Financial Officer Frank Childs said any money donated to a dam fund would be returned.

Sarcione said she was disappointed and now worries about what might happen to the nearby pond if Gagnon removes the dam.

"That pond means a lot to me," she said. "This is a diamond. Save it."

She noted a group of residents worked successfully to save the historic Upper Village Hall in East Derry, also earmarked for potential demolition.

"We saved the Upper Village Hall, why can't we save this?" she said.

But Childs said it was apples and oranges. In the East Derry situation, a large group of citizens had a concrete plan in mind to take ownership of the hall and had a detailed plan to pay for its renovations.

Conservation Commission Chairman Margie Ives said she hoped Gagnon would consider wetland and pond studies before taking action.

She is concerned about the waters at Adams Pond and what might happen if the dam is removed.

"I hope that the town and Mr. Gagnon can come to some decision that is sound, based on hydrological studies and that preserves our history," she said.

Sarcione said she wished Milz had a chance to speak at the last meeting as new information may have been useful.

"Shame on those people for doing that to the pond; shame on them for killing a part of our history in Derry," she said.

Councilors said it's a done deal for the dam.

"This motion fails as far as it sits today," Benson said.