OTISFIELD — Selectmen have agreed to place an article on the town meeting warrant in June to ask voters whether they will agree to fund maintenance repairs or replacements of dry hydrants on private property.

“The first thing we want to do is make sure people agree with it,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Hal Ferguson said Thursday.

The issue arose late last year when the Silvaqua Association refused to pay for repairs that became necessary at the dry hydrant on the association’s private beach.

Association members argued that the hydrant is for public use so they should not be liable for costs. The Silvaqua Association and the town had an informal hydrant agreement for years in which the association shared the initial installation costs for the dry hydrant.

In February, Richard P. Flewelling, assistant director of the Legal Services Department for the Maine Municipal Association, told the board in an email that he was “skeptical” that using public money to build and maintain dry hydrants on private property would serve a public purpose.

But last month, Selectman Rick Micklon asked for clarification of the MMA legal opinion on whether the town can pay for maintenance and repairs for a dry hydrant on private property.


Micklon questioned the legal opinion from the Maine Municipal Association and asked the town’s attorney to review it.

Ferguson said the town attorney agreed town funds could be used if it was for a public purpose (in this case, for fire protection of structures in and around the association area.)

Selectmen decided at their meeting Wednesday night to ask town meeting voters for their approval to use town money for dry hydrants on any piece of private property.

In other business, the board heard an update on the Pleasant Lake dam project in Casco.

Casco and Otisfield selectmen received a report in 2014 from the Maine Emergency Management Agency that there was significant leakage and structural deterioration at the dam that has been  jointly owned, operated and maintained by Casco and Otisfield since 1994. It previously was owned by Hancock Lumber Co.

The dam is on Mill Brook, behind the Hancock Lumber office on Route 121. It regulates the water level of the 3.8-mile-long Pleasant Lake, which lies in Casco and Otisfield.


According to the Maine Dams Inventory, the 110-foot-long, 12-foot-high dam was built in 1850, repaired in 1980, and has low-hazard classification, meaning there is nothing significant downstream that would be affected by a dam breach.

Ferguson said the project has gone out to bid and bids are expected back by May 18.

Meanwhile, officials from both towns, along with the project engineer, are expected to meet with potential bidders later this month at the dam site to answer questions about the job.


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