Update (7/2/23): Not much new was shared during the updated at the June 28 meeting not mentioned in our original post. You can review the brief segment during the Select Board meeting shortly after the 1-hour, 34-minute mark of the Natick Pegasus recording. Deputy Town Administrator John Marshall did say that the town plans to move ahead with an initiative in the fall to address improvements Grove and South Natick Dam Park in the wake of Town Meeting funding approval.
While water continues to gush over the South Natick Dam, there’s been but a trickle of news in recent months about the town’s plans to get rid of it, per last fall’s Select Board vote. So the agenda item for an update at the Wednesday, June 28 Select Board meeting could prove interesting.
The town will share its compliance, design and permitting, and funding progress. Among other things, Natick has applied for a $250,000 Dam & Seawall grant for design and permitting. The town also has contracted with an outfit called the Public Archeology Lab to conduct a cultural resource assessment that perhaps could uncover anything from bones to a boater warning sign that a steep drop-off is ahead (we reached out to the firm to learn about its expertise on dam sites).
Work on the agenda includes conducting dam inspections to adhere to state rules, seeking more funding opportunities, and fleshing out a contract with GZA, an environmental and geotechnical engineering firm that is among this project’s consultant sweepstakes winners. Since the Select Board decision to do away with the dam and spillway, GZA has taken additional sediment samples above the dam that proved unremarkable.
In voting last year in favor of spillway removal, the Select Board reversed course from an earlier town decision to fund dam repairs. Financial, environmental, and cultural arguments won them over. Those still advocating to repair the dam made moves during this past Annual Spring Town Meeting to get the town to change its mind again, but motions under three separate articles failed to pass. Save Natick Dam proponents have vowed to keep at it.
Even if things move along as scheduled, it could still be another five or six years before the dam and spillway make way for a stretch of ordinary river.
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