Mahar Pond dam repair work gets funding

ORANGE — Five years after it was noted for infrastructure inadequacies, Mahar Pond dam will get $100,000 from the state for repairs.

The House and Senate voted Tuesday to override the governor’s veto of earmarked money for the Office of Dam Safety, which included money for the Mahar dam.

The override required a two-thirds vote of both chambers.

“I am pleased to have advocated for this funding on behalf of Mahar Regional High School,” said Sen. Stephen Brewer. “As a nature lover myself, I believe that we should do everything we can to preserve our natural resources.”

The budget adopted by the Legislature included $100,000 for the project.

The Mahar Regional School District already has a $50,000 loan that was taken out for the dam in 2012 that has not been touched. The total project cost is estimated at $150,000, according to volunteer and concerned citizen Carl Sauter.

The dam, on the property of the regional school, has been in need of repairs since a state inspection in 2009.

At the time, the state told the school district that the dam needed to be repaired, breached or removed. The dam has been used by science classes to study wildlife.

The School Committee has debated how to fix the dam. The state’s decision to fund the project came as a relief after the governor initially vetoed it, Sauter said.

“I’m very excited. It’s not every day something like this comes along,” he said.

Rep. Denise Andrews and Sens. Stanley Rosenberg and Brewer were credited with pushing the project through.

“I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues in the Legislature, for recognizing this important win-win project to protect public safety, ensuring necessary repairs are made, while preserving this teaching and recreation asset for the school,” said Andrews in a statement. “Our communities are making difficult decisions to fund a number of important infrastructure priorities.”

With the funding question solved, the School Committee plans to hold a roundtable discussion among engineers and volunteers to determine the project’s next steps.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268 on Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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