Supporters of saving the Adams Pond Dam seem to be out of options — save one. With the Town Council unwilling to have Derry take over and restore the dam, supporters are left with the option of buying it themselves.
That will take a lot more organization and effort than the friends of the historic dam have shown so far.
The dam is currently owned by developer Jean Gagnon of Londonderry, who plans to build a subdivision on 85 acres around the dam and the pond created by it. The state last year rated the dam as a failing structure and issued a letter of deficiency. Gagnon has said he cannot afford the $150,000 cost of rebuilding the dam and so has offered to give it and the surrounding embankment to Derry, which would then be responsible for the repairs.
In October, the Town Council deadlocked 3-3 on a vote to take ownership of the dam. Councilor Brian Chirichiello, a real estate agent, did not vote, citing potential dealings with Gagnon. The tie vote meant the proposal was defeated.
Despite pressure from supporters of the dam, the council last week defeated a motion to reconsider the October vote.
Dam supporters Ellie 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 told reporter Julie Huss. “This is a diamond. Save it.”
Sarcione noted that a group of residents had been able to save East Derry’s historic Upper Village Hall, which had been slated for demolition.
“We saved the Upper Village Hall, why can’t we save this?” she said.
But Frank Childs, Derry’s chief financial officer, noted that, 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.
If Sarcione and the other supporters of the Adams Pond Dam are willing to make the effort to raise the renovation money, perhaps Gagnon can be convinced to offer them the same deal he was willing to give Derry — the dam and the embankment for free.
This is no simple undertaking. Dam supporters would need to organize formally and come up with a plan to renovate or repair the structure. That’s the easy part. Raising $150,000 or more would be very difficult.
At this point, that difficult path may be their only option. Derry officials have shown little interest in taking over the dam. And Gagnon has said he may remove the structure, reducing Adams Pond to a mere stream.
If supporters of the Adams Pond Dam want any chance of saving the structure, they’ll need to act quickly and decisively. With town officials having washed their hands of the matter, the only hope for the dam — and it’s a longshot at best — is in their hands.