FARMINGTON – Voters approved a project to remove Walton’s Mill Dam by a relatively wide margin at Tuesday’s referendum vote, accepting approximately $1.2 million funding from the Atlantic Salmon Federation to take down the structure and make associated improvements.
The single local issue on Farmington’s ballot was approved with 2031 votes in favor of removing the dam and 1195 opposed. The yes/no question allowed the town to enter into an agreement with the ASF to remove the dam on the Temple Stream. Built around 1820, the dam was flagged as a barrier in the migration route of the endangered Atlantic salmon by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2009.
The agreement would result in the removal of the dam at the estimated cost of $500,000; improvements to the area that included more parking, wooden walkways, a public restroom, a pavilion, trail improvements and historical preservation elements, at the cost of $355,000; $20,000 for future park maintenance costs; and the replacement of two culverts on the Clover Mill and Cummings Hill Roads at the combined cost of $350,000. Per the referendum question, no town investment would be used for the $1.2 million project. Terms and conditions will be negotiated by the Board of Selectmen.
ASF had previously indicated that the removal of the dam will not occur immediately, as the organization would need time to raise the funds. Town officials had previously been told that federal action on the dam would be delayed as long as the town was actively pursuing a solution.
The town’s alternative option to mitigate the barrier issue would have been to install a fish passage to allow salmon to bypass the dam. In addition to constructing the passage, the dam itself would have required repair to make it safe for the installation. The combined cost of the fish passage option was previously estimated at $750,000.