Bristol voters will decide the future of the Bristol Mills Dam and fish ladder in June.
The referendum question will ask voters to choose between two options: to repair the dam and replace the fish ladder, or to remove the dam, build a new structure for water-level control upstream of the dam, provide swimming facilities at Ellingwood Park, and install new dry hydrants where necessary to provide alternative sources of water for fire protection.
The Bristol Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 on Wednesday, April 18 to hold the referendum Tuesday, June 12. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“Rather than voting for or against something, you can have two options … To me, this is the fairest way to present it to the voters,” board of selectmen Chair Chad Hanna said.
A special town meeting by secret ballot will be held on Tuesday, June 12, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., where residents will vote on the dam.
A second referendum question would ask whether voters authorize the selectmen to transfer up to $40,000 from surplus to the Fish Ladder Capital Reserve Fund for preparatory work for either option.
The engineering firm Wright-Pierce has estimated that a single Denil fish ladder would cost $440,000, and that the second option would cost about $610,000, according to Hall.
The town currently has about $300,000 in reserves available for the first option, and about $80,000 for the second option, assuming the Fish Passage Reserve Fund could be applied to dam removal, according to Hall.
The selectmen also accepted a proposal from Gartley & Dorsky Engineering & Surveying Inc. to survey the town-owned property around the dam and the bed of the river upstream and downstream of the dam.
The survey will provide more information on options for the dam and fish passage, according to Town Administrator Chris Hall.
The cost for the work is not to exceed $5,000, and the survey is to be completed by May 31. The money will come from the Fish Passage Reserve Account.
The town recently received a $50,000 gift toward the construction of a new pavilion at Pemaquid Beach Park, according to Hall.
The gift will allow the Bristol Parks and Recreation Commission to hire an architect and surveyor to develop a plan for the building.
Hall said the same donor has indicated a willingness to follow up the first gift with a much larger gift depending on the design.
The selectmen authorized Hall to open a new restricted reserve account for the funds.
The selectmen awarded a $98,075 paving contract to Hagar Enterprises Inc., of Damariscotta.
The roads being paved include part of Foster Road, Old Fort Road, Pemaquid Beach Loop, Fish Point Road, Bristol Dam Loop, the New Harbor South Side Boat Landing, and part of Lower Round Pond Road.
Code of conduct
Hall gave the selectmen a draft code of conduct and code of ethics for elected and appointed officials. It is based on a template from the Maine Municipal Association, and was adapted to reflect Bristol’s elected and appointed bodies.
The selectmen decided to take the draft home to review it, and will discuss it at their next meeting.
The possibility of adopting a code of conduct is especially pertinent this year, as there are currently 10 applicants for four open positions on the Bristol Budget Committee.
J.W. Oliver, a member of the budget committee, spoke at the meeting in favor of taking a close look at all applications, and not just reappointing current members.
“I think there will be value in new voices,” Oliver said.
“It is a good problem to have, to have a number of candidates to choose from,” Hanna said.
Oliver also stated that he thought it would be valuable to outline in the code of conduct not just legal conflict of interest, but also personal grievances.
Hall gave an update on the Bristol Mills Liberty Pole, which has been taken down. The town hopes to install a new pole this summer.
The parks and recreation department was approached by Next Edge Networks, a company under contract with the U.S. Coast Guard that has been installing small rangefinder-type antennas at seaward-facing points along the Eastern Seaboard.
The company offered to pay $1,000 a year to install a unit at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. The town has decided not to allow the installation on the lighthouse itself, but to offer placement on the storage building.
The next selectmen’s meeting will be at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 2 at the town office.