To the editor:
Before you ask, yes, I’m from away. I’ve been on Biscay Pond for over 30 years. The first 15 were in Bristol, near the outlet, then we moved to Damariscotta, on the west side, about 1/2-mile from the town beach. We spent every summer here and most weekends from mid-May to mid-October. Now that I’m retired, I spend a lot more time here. The winters are as beautiful as the summers, in their own way, and autumn, glorious autumn! Mud season, not so much …
I’m all in favor of saving the dam. We’ve swum there many times. It’s a unique location steeped in tradition, and a cozy, friendly spot. Over the years we often ventured down the river in various crafts like paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, inflatables, and small rowboats to enjoy a beautiful summer’s or fall’s day experience. For several years we were always surprised and amused to see the same laundry hanging on the same line in front of the same abandoned cottage on the west side of the river. When we finally reached the dam, our kids and I would jump off the bridge (can’t do that anymore), rest by the edge of the dam, have a snack, then start our 45-minute trip back home.
I would love to see the dam stay where it is and be complimented with a new, aesthetically pleasing, and truly functional fish ladder. At the same time, the rock weir and new swimming area sounds quite attractive also. It’s a permanent, long-term, low-maintenance fix that returns the river to a more naturally functioning condition. The swimming and picnic area are designed with adequate parking and a boat ramp for small crafts. The water itself, arguably, a more diverse place to swim. No dam to jump from, but the rock weir might offer some opportunities for fun. There’s friendly green space set back off Bristol Road with views of the wetlands and the river. Picnic tables are on the green and on the island accessed by a small footbridge. It does sound like a tempting alternative.
I guess the real decision comes down to preserving the past, with all its memories and history, while improving the fish migration with a new fish ladder, or moving onto a new, more nature-friendly, and, some might say, more user-friendly local swimming hole. You can only hope that the generations to come will look at the product of your decision and say, “My grandparents made the right choice back in 2018. Thanks guys, this place is great!”
If you haven’t seen what the options actually look like, you can go to the town of Bristol website at bristolmaine.org, click on “Meeting Minutes & Agendas,” then, under “Minutes,” click “Bristol Dam Advisory Committee,” then select “2018,” then click on “Bristol Mills Dam Feasibility Study Final Report,” then select “Bristol Mills Dam Feasibility Final Report.” The proposed option engineering drawings are near the end.
Please don’t vote with just your head or your heart; make it a joint decision!