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Lake Fairlee Dam Renovation Hits A Snag As Bond Vote Nears

Skip Brown
Voters in Fairlee, West Fairlee and Thetford will decide next month whether to finance a new dam over Lake Fairlee.

Voters in Fairlee, West Fairlee and Thetford will decide next month whether to finance a new dam over Lake Fairlee. The old one is in bad shape and the owner, a Maine resident, can’t afford to replace it. The re-design process has hit a few snags but community leaders in charge of the project are confident it will go forward.

Credit Delsie Hoyt
A privately-owned dam over Lake Fairlee is in serious need of repair, but negotiations with the owner continue as three towns approach a bond vote to finance repairs.

Engineers warn that if the dam fails, water levels would drop so much so much that lakefront property would border on mud flats.

The tax base for Fairlee, West Fairlee and Thetford would erode along with the shoreline. But the dam’s owner, Bryan Gregory, objects to a new walkway that he says would encourage the public to trespass on his camp, which sits right on top of the dam. West Fairlee Selectboard chairperson Delsie Hoyt says she thinks there’s a way for town officials to access the dam if necessary, without letting the public cross the bridge in front of the owner’s camp.

“Like any project, when you get to the end, the devil’s in details, and we’re really sensitive to the concerns that the dam owner has but we are very close in our agreement and see that these details can be worked out and we have to make this deal,” Hoyt says.

Hoyt says the $850,000 bond vote will go ahead on May 19 even if the negotiations are still ongoing.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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