Natick is holding a series of meetings in May to educate the public on the future of the Charles River Dam in South Natick and collect feedback.
The 1934 dam has received a series of less-than-stellar inspection grades in recent years and the town decided it better do something about it since the dam is owned by Natick. As a high hazard structure that impounds about 160 million gallons of water, the dam would do some real damage to its surroundings if it fails. Town Meeting in 2019 approved $1.25M in funds to fix the dam, but since then the prospect of just getting rid of it has been been entertained.
Some say breaching the dam will be an environmental boon, and rid the town of a financial and safety headache. Those who live along the river fear the unknown of what breaching could bring, from stinky sediment to increased flooding to loss of property. Others are more focused on the aesthetic loss, with the earthen dam and accompanying spillway (aka, the waterfall) a popular gathering and photo spot. Most excited, regardless of what happens, are environmental, engineering and other consultants.
Natick formed an advisory committee consisting of town reps and neighbors earlier this year, which seeks to give the Select Board a recommendation by year-end.
Public Information Session
Monday, May 17, from 6:30 – 8 PM ET
At this meeting, the community will hear from Town staff and technical contractors on the fix vs. breach options. There will be an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. It will also be recorded.
Community Input Sessions
Tuesday, May 25, from 6-8 PM ET OR Wednesday, May 26, from noon – 2:00 PM ET
The town is promoting these sessions for Natick community members to discuss and share their input and thoughts on the pros and cons of the two options available. These sessions will have the same agenda, and people should choose to attend one. Those of you from surrounding communities who are down river from the dam— and don’t want to find yourselves up a river because of decisions made by Natick’s town government—might want to check these out, too, and get your voices heard.
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