Tuesday, July 28, Farmington selectmen tabled an agreement related to the removal of Walton’s Mill Dam in West Farmington. Voters approved the project in 2018. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — At the Tuesday night, July 28, selectmen meeting a $315,625 grant application for the Walton’s Mill Pond Park improvement project was approved, but a project agreement on the related dam removal was tabled.

In November 2018, voters approved the $1.2 million Walton’s Mill Dam project. In 2017, a fish passage study was approved.

The project will be funded entirely by the Atlantic Salmon Federation. It includes removal of the dam, new lawn space in Walton’s Mill Pond Park, trail improvements, an expanded parking lot, public restrooms and a pavilion.

The proposed project agreement between the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and the Town of Farmington relative to the Walton’s Mill Dam Removal Project is pretty comprehensive, Town Manager Richard Davis said.

“I’ve had our town attorney review it, there were a couple of things noted,” he said.

If a perpetual conservation easement is needed, it requires a town meeting vote so no action can be taken until then, Davis said.

“There were a few questions the attorney had with the agreement, wants to bring the language more in line with the State Torte’s Claim Act,” he said. “The termination clause seems to be short notice for the entities involved and overly broad for the parameters for termination.”

The proposed changes from legal counsel will be shared with TNC for them to respond, Davis said.

Farmington Selectmen approved a $315,625 grant application for the Walton Mill Pond Park improvement project on Tuesday, July 28. It includes removal of the dam, new lawn space in Walton’s Mill Pond Park, trail improvements, an expanded parking lot, public restrooms and a pavilion. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

The $315,625 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant piggybacks on existing grants the town has, Davis said.

“There are four different projects funded that way over the years, including the original Walton’s Mill Park,” Davis said.

Total cost for the entire project is about $1.8 million, he said.

Matching funds committed include:

  • Atlantic Salmon Federation, $180,000
  • NOAA Fisheries, $600,000
  • USFWS, $120,000

Matching funds pending include:

  • Private donations, $120,000
  • Northern Border Regional Commission, $300,000
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $155,393

Selectman Stephan Bunker asked about the status of those listed as pending.

“The applications have all been put in, all are being handled by the Atlantic Salmon Federation,” Davis said. “There’s no town costs involved in this.”

Selectmen also approved a grant request from Tawnya Clough, owner of Mosher’s Meat and Seafood. The application was one of four originally approved for funding in March.

Mosher’s Meat and Seafood, 595 Farmington Falls Road, has applied for a $30,000 2020 Micro Enterprise Assistance Program grant through the Community Development Block Grant program.

A couple of public hearings have to be held, this is the second one, Davis said.

Owner Tawnya Clough will use the funds to install a new digital road sign.

Clough is investing an additional $15,000 in improvements as part of this project, Davis said.

In other business, the board approved a $5,500 reduction in the Farmington Library 2020 budget.

Library treasurer Andrew Robinson sent Davis an email requesting the building capital fund be cut by $5,000, the cafe fund reduced by $350 and fundraising by $150. $5,000, $150 and $50 respectively would remain in those lines.

“The reductions are because of the period of time they were closed earlier this spring,” Davis said.

Budget committee members are in favor, he said.

In June, the board voted to cancel the annual Town Meeting and commit taxes based on last year’s budget.

“It gives us a little bit more of a cushion, reduces our commitment,” Davis added.

“Can we legally do this,” Selectman Joshua Bell asked.

“Their request has been changed just like other departments that came in with revised budgets,” Davis said.

The library’s original budget of $205,404 is now $199,904.

“It’s $1,024 less than in 2019, about 0.5% less,” Davis said.

“If we’re going based on last year’s budget, how can we change it,” Bell asked.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to mirror last year’s budget exactly. It’s based on the tax commitment,” Davis said. “As allowed under the Executive Order, we can commit taxes based on last year’s numbers. We’re already lower, this just makes it that much less. We’re not operating off last year’s budget, we’re basing the tax commitment on the number approved last year.”

The library savings come from not being open this spring (due to the coronavirus pandemic), Davis again noted.

The board also appointed Michael Macneil to a three year term on the Budget Committee and one year as an alternate on the Planning Board. He indicated that he was willing to serve on the Board of Assessment Review, however there is no opening, Davis said.

New officers were also elected for the board with Matthew Smith the new chairman, Stephan Bunker vice chairman and Matthew Fogg secretary.

“In the six years I’ve been a selectman, Joshua Bell has sat here as chairman. He’s been a role model,” Smith said.

 

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