SAVE CURTIS POND – VOTE YES ON ARTICLE 20
EVERY VOTE COUNTS: BE SURE TO SUBMIT YOUR BALLOT ON TIME!
Ballots will be mailed to all Calais Voters on February 13th. Please return your ballot by mail or in person to the lock box in the lobby of the Town Office. If mailed, mail them early so they’re sure to arrive on time. Ballots can be returned up until Town Meeting Day, March 7th.
The article reads:
Article 20 – Shall general obligation bonds of the Town of Calais in an amount not to exceed Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars (S450,000), subject to reduction from available state or federal grants or other financial assistance, be issued for the purpose of renovation of the Curtis Pond Dam to State dam safety standards, the estimated total cost of which is $700,000?
“Without the dam there is no Curtis Pond”. This realization caused the Curtis Pond Association (CPA) to organize the Curtis Pond Dam Exploratory Group in 2019 to work towards getting the Curtis Pond Dam repaired. It became clear, this project needed municipal involvement to succeed. Recognizing the enormous social, cultural, financial, and recreational benefits of Curtis Pond to the entire town of Calais, the Selectboard appointed two members, Denise Wheeler, and John Brabant, to act as liaisons between the CPA and the Selectboard and see this project through.
As soon as we secure the funding, we can go out to bid and possibly complete the project this year! The CPA Executive Board and the Calais Selectboard signed a Memo of Understanding (MOU) in November 2021 which outlined a pathway to fix the dam, resolved the long-standing issue of ownership of the dam and demonstrated our joint commitment to the project. Dubois & King has been hired to develop engineering plans and shepherd the various permit applications. Permit applications, as well as final bid-ready designs, are well underway. We are in regular contact with qualified contractors who are interested in bidding on the project. Assuming everything comes together as expected, we hope to be able to complete construction in 2023.
In the long run, it will cost the Town substantially more in lost tax revenue if we lose the pond than it will cost to fix it. The Curtis Pond Dam, constructed nearly 150 years ago, united several small water bodies to create Curtis Pond. Should the dam collapse or deteriorate further necessitating the drawing down of the pond level, the Pond would become substantially smaller and most of its footprint reduced to a wetland as opposed to the current open water. In that event, the Town-owned beach and “Island” would become unusable, the boat launch inoperable, and the long-standing Calais swim program would cease to exist. Maple Corner would lose much of its summer population, which in turn would likely cause the failure of the Maple Corner Community Store. Properties on the shoreline and within walking distance of the pond would suffer a reduction in property value estimated at 25 percent. Conservatively estimated this would lead to a loss of $25- $50 million of value in the Calais Grand List. Absent an immediate and significant reduction in the Town budget, this would require a compensatory increase in taxes for all properties in Calais.
As early as 2001, the State has declared that “the overall condition of the dam is poor and requires repairs” and is not likely to issue a permit to rebuild a dam if it fails. The current estimate for the dam renovation is about $700,000. A modern concrete dam will be built just upstream of the dam and tied into the existing dam which will remain in place, preserving the historic beauty of the dam.
Funding the project: The CPA is committed to raising $250,000 or more from grants and donations. Of this, we have raised $215,000 from more than 300 individual contributors and are confident we will raise the remainder by March of this year. The Calais Select Board has voted to approve $100,000 in ARPA (state) funding towards construction costs pending successful passage of the Calais Bond Vote. The CPA gathered 200 signatures on their petition (13.6% of Calais Voters, 53 signatures more than needed) to place Article 20, a bond of up to $450,000, on the March 7th Calais Ballot. Due to the ARPA funds, we expect the actual bond needed to be closer to $350,000, or half the cost of the project. If the bond passes, there is a good chance we can complete this project in the summer of 2023! VOTE YES ON ARTICLE 20: Let’s work together to get the Curtis Pond Dam fixed!
The Curtis Pond Association was formed during the summer of 2017 when community members came together to brainstorm how to ensure Curtis Pond remained a wonderful resource for generations to come.
The objectives of the Curtis Pond Association are to promote discussion and serve as an educational forum in order to preserve and enhance for future generations the environment and natural beauty of Curtis Pond; promote use of best scientific practices in and around the Pond; protect the Pond’s wildlife, shoreline, watershed, and ecologically related environs; and promote the enjoyment of the lake by owners of property adjacent to and nearby Curtis Pond, and by the public visiting Curtis Pond.
Our largest project right now is repairing the Curtis Pond Dam. Here are the basics, please peruse the website for the details.
- Curtis Pond Dam has been listed by state dam engineers as a “Significant Hazard” for over 18 years.
- Curtis Pond Dam “overtopped” during Hurricane Irene in 2011. Experts agree one more similar overtopping event could cause complete dam failure.
- If the Curtis Pond Dam fails, Curtis Pond would be reduced to two small ponds surrounded by mudflats and wetlands.
- In the case of catastrophic dam failure, the state is “highly unlikely” to ever issue a permit to rebuild the dam, and Curtis Pond would be lost FOREVER.
- It is conservatively estimated that loss of the pond would result in over $3 million in lost property taxes over 20 years. These funds would have to be raised by raising everyone else’s taxes.
- Even if the Calais Taxpayers picked up the entire bill for fixing the Curtis Pond Dam (nobody is suggesting they do) – it would raise taxes less than losing the pond would.
- The Curtis Pond Associations Dam Exploratory Committee has a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Calais Selectboard, outlining both organizations shared commitment to seeing this project through.
Please look around the site where you’ll find lots of historic documents related to previous efforts to rebuild the dam, as well as lots more details and media about current efforts. Please contact us if you have any questions or want to support our efforts.
The Curtis Pond Dam Committee has been working since 2020 on a plan to repair the Curtis Pond Dam, which has been classified by the state as a “Significant Hazard” for 18 years! A recent report released by the Vermont State Auditor’s office Digs deep into the importance of fixing hazardous dams before it’s too late. During Hurricane Irene, the Curtis Pond Dam overtopped. The Dam Exploratory committee has been told that one more such event could lead to a dam failure, which in turn could mean losing Curtis Pond forever. That’s why we’ve teamed up with the Calais Selectboard to develop a clear path forward to ensure Curtis Pond remains a local, community resource for generations to come.
The Curtis Pond Association Board of Directors include:
- President – Colleen Bloom
- Vice President – Jamie Moorby
- Treasurer – Marge Sweeney
- Secretary – Reenie DeGeus
- At Large – Ginger Clammer
- At Large – Marc Mihaly
- At Large – Noreen Bryan
The CPA Dam Exploratory Group fluctuates in size and has a broad range of participants. The core organizing groups consists of:
- Colleen Bloom
- Jamie Moorby
- Marge Sweeney
- Marc Mihaly
- John Rosenblum
- Denise Wheeler (Select Board Liaison)
- John Brabant (Select Board Liaison)