CHINA — The town’s Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, Committee heard from representatives for a group hoping to restore alewives to China Lake.

The Alewife Restoration Initiative is a group of six organizations aimed at restoring the alewife population in central Maine. The group is currently waiting on a state permit to remove the Masse Dam in Vassalboro, a proposal which has left some residents unhappy.

The China Lake Association, which is part of the restoration project, is now asking the town for funds to help keep the estimated $3 million project moving forward.

The association’s president, Scott Pierz, said he was directed to the TIF Committee to ask for money. The TIF district was established in 2015 based on Central Maine Power upgrades. Taxes from the upgrades go into the TIF account specifically for economic development projects for the town.

Pierz didn’t ask for a specific number, but gave information about the project. He said the restoration organization is looking for up to $20,000 from the town, which would help with the removal of the Lombard Dam in Vassalboro, which is the next step after the removal of the Masse Dam.

Frank Richards, president of the Webber Pond Association, spoke about how the project is appropriate for the scope of the committee.

“Alewife restoration is primarily economic development,” he said. Webber Pond was one of the first ponds to latch onto restoration, and Vassalboro gets about $20,000 per year from alewife runs.

Some studies have also said that alewives take phosphorous from lakes back out to the ocean when they migrate, he said.

While China wouldn’t benefit from an alewife run, it would benefit from clearer water and increased property valuations which would increase revenue for the town, Richards said.

Some of the committee members were skeptical about the idea.

“I’m sure the property owners will be very happy to hear that,” said Robert MacFarland, who said he wasn’t against the project, but that it may be hard to convince most residents of the benefits.

Richards said homeowners would be able to sell their properties for more, however.

“That’s great as long as I don’t have to sell my property because I can’t afford to live there anymore,” said committee member Dale Worster.

The committee also discussed its Causeway project with Mark McCluskey, an engineer at A.E. Hodsdon.

Some parts of the original project cannot move forward because a proposal to change the land use development code was rejected by voters on Nov. 8. The town plans to put forth the amended code again at Town Meeting in March.

The committee voted to approve a motion to have McCluskey draft engineering plans that would provide the committee with enough information to apply for permits for the project. The committee plans to move forward with plans to construct a parking area with a retention filter for run-off, upgrade the boat launch, install more floats, and install sheetpile to increase parking and walking space, as well as fishing platforms.

However, the committee did agree it should choose its priorities as well.

The bridge at the Causeway has another 10 years left, McCluskey said. Replacement would cost an estimated $350,000.

China Village Fire Chief Timothy Theriault attended the meeting to talk about the possibility of building a new fire station.

While Theriault said they don’t necessarily need or want a new station, he does think the town needs to look toward the future. The volunteer fire department is running out of volunteers, so the town may need to start hiring people, he said.

“We can do it as a one-lump sum,” he said, estimating the hiring and a new building would be about $1 million. “But I don’t think that’s the right way to do it.”

The committee is not looking at removing the fire station right now, but may look into grants in the future.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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