BELGRADE — The Belgrade Village Dam is falling apart, requiring a $100,000 fix that has prompted a committee that oversees the structure and two other dams to ask voters in Belgrade and four other towns to increase their annual dam funding by 188%.

The Belgrade Area Dams Committee is made up of volunteers appointed by the towns of Belgrade, Mount Vernon, Oakland, Rome and Sidney. As part of an interlocal agreement, the towns are responsible for overseeing the maintenance and operation of Belgrade Village Dam, Wings Mills Dam on Long Pond and Salmon Lake Dam.

The town-owned Belgrade Village Dam connects Great Pond and Long Pond and holds back water in Great Pond. The dam is near Day’s Store on Route 27, about 15 feet from the bridge. Concrete on the dam has been patched for 27 years, but is now in dire need of repair, according to committee Chairman Dick Greenan.

Dick Greenan, chairman of the Belgrade Area Dams Committee, looks down Thursday at damage to the base of the Belgrade Village Dam in Belgrade. Officials are working to move quickly on repairs. The dam is between Great Pond and Long Pond. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Greenan said rusty rebar on the dam caused a chain reaction, turning the adjacent concrete into mush. It was checked regularly and looked OK in October, but by December officials had discovered a serious problem and saw that an 8-foot gauge had fallen off the dam.

While the dam is not in danger of full catastrophic blowout, the dam gates will jam and it will be difficult to manage water flow if not repaired, according to Greenan.

“It’s going to fail,” he said, “and the pivot points are going to let go and the gates are going to stick in one position or the other.”


The dam has two 9-by-10-foot gates, one of which is on electric power and the other is a wheel that is manually turned, according to Greenan. Each gate weighs about 2 1/2 tons, he said.

Repairing the dam will entail jackhammering to remove the damaged concrete, sealing it, adding rebar and shooting in high-pressure concrete that can withstand the elements, he said. Salt from Route 27 has also contributed to the deterioration, according to Greenan, who has served on the committee for 15 years.

Knowles Industrial Services Corp. of Gorham will do the repair work, hopefully in June or July, and it is expected to take about two weeks, he said.

Each town in the interlocal agreement approves money at its annual town meeting for the dams budget. The shares are based on the miles of shoreland in each town. There are 37 miles of shoreline in Belgrade, 17.8 in Rome, 11.3 in Oakland, 6.3 in Sidney and 5.5 in Mount Vernon.

So far this year, voters in Belgrade and Rome have approved their requested increases. Belgrade approved a total of $71,418 and Rome approved $34,221. Sidney voters are scheduled Saturday to consider approving $11,903, Oakland voters are to consider $20,830 on May 2 and Mount Vernon voters are slated to consider $10,415 on June 15.

Oakland Town Manager Ella Bowman said the town supports the amount requested.


“Everything passed during the budget meetings,” she said. “I don’t anticipate any problems at the Town Meeting regarding this.”

Meanwhile, Greenan approached several entities to try to help fund the dam repair. He attended a March 7 meeting of Kennebec County Commissioners, at which he asked if county American Rescue Plan Act funds could be used to help reimburse the towns for money put into the repairs.

Greenan told commissioners the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it is a municipal dam and the corps does not have authority to get involved; the Maine Department of Transportation deemed the dam is out of its jurisdiction; the Maine Emergency Management Agency said there were no grant options; and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s office checked with the state engineer, Adam Cattrell, who is in charge of the Small Watershed Rehabilitation Program, and only dams originally designed and built under that program are eligible for rehabilitation funds, according to Greenan.

County Commissioner George M. Jabar II told Greenan the dam committee should have come to the commission sooner to ask for help. If some projects the county is funding with ARPA money fall through, there could be funding available for the dam, he said.

Greenan said the dam repair issue surfaced unexpectedly. The many patches to the dam made it look OK, but were only cosmetic, and the moisture got into them and corroded the rebar, Greenan said.

Contacted this week, County Administrator Scott Ferguson said Greenan submitted an application only recently to the commission for funding.


“The commissioners have not made a decision with regard to this application,” Ferguson wrote in an email.

Central Maine Power Co. originally owned and managed the dams, which were built about 1900, according to Greenan, who said CMP in 1986 wanted to divest itself of the dams and hoped the towns would take them over, but the  towns were not interested at the time. Instead, another entity took them over, but kept them only about 1 1/2 years and sold the dams to the town of Belgrade for $1.

The interlocal agreement was developed for Belgrade, Rome and Oakland, and three years ago Mount Vernon and Sidney joined, Greenan said.

Last year, the dam on Salmon Lake was repaired for $25,000. The Wings Mills Dam has seen $155,000 worth of work.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.