FARMINGTON — The dam has been removed and the new Walton’s Mill Park is open for visitors. The park will be dedicated 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29.

On July 27 part of the new Walton’s Mill Park in Farmington is seen. The ledges in Temple stream are seen in front of the row of trees at left. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Parks & Recreation Department Director Matthew Foster and Maranda Nemeth, project manager with the Atlantic Salmon Federation were to have had a final inspection July 27 but that was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

In this file photo Maranda Nemeth with the Atlantic Salmon Federation looks out over Temple Stream in Farmington May 21, 2021. The dam has been removed and a new observation deck has replaced the one where Nemeth is standing. File photo/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Foster met with The Franklin Journal that afternoon at the park. At that time there were still a few little things that needed to be finished before the park would open. Since then, the park has opened and activities are already being scheduled there, such as free yoga in the park sessions for the next three Saturday mornings.

Walton’s Mill Park now features lighting to accent buildings and make the park more user friendly at night. The covered pavilion is seen at back left, the handicapped accessible restroom at right and a sign kiosk at center. Farmington Parks & Recreation Department

“The park is beautiful, even at night,” Foster said July 27. “There has been a lot of community feedback throughout the whole process. The Parks & Recreation Committee have been involved, there were three or four open sessions for community members to give their needs and wants.

“This park is an example of what can happen when you let a lot of great people do great things. So many groups of great people put a lot of time and effort into this.”

A lot of positive feedback has already been received, Foster said. The park will meet a variety of different needs, is a unique space, he noted.


“I want to have a lot of parks that meet different needs,” he stated.

As seen July 27, a new stone pathway provides easy access to Temple Stream in Walton’s Mill Park in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

The wet weather the last six weeks has been a blessing, was ideal for the 2,000 plants transplanted in the park, Foster noted. “It rained almost every day, helped the vegetation get established.”

As seen on July 27, the water wheel once used in the Walton’s Mill is now on display in Walton’s Mill Park in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Walton’s Mill Park now features improved parking area with four parallel parking spaces along Route 43, sign kiosk, enclosed handicapped-accessible restroom facilities, outdoor drinking fountains, covered pavilion with picnic tables, a natural play area for children, new overlook area to view Temple Stream, granite steps leading to the stream, the water wheel once used at the mill on display and lights for the park’s use at night.

Musical instruments being provided by Farmington Rotary, donated in advance of the chapter’s centennial in 2025 will be located behind the pavilion in the natural play area, Foster noted. The park will be a great place to explore, learn about the animals, insects and birds that live in the area, he stated after seeing a Dobson fly on one of the picnic tables.

“We have seen moose and deer tracks in the park already,” Foster said. “It’s kind of neat.”

The park has been a great project to work on, he noted.


The Atlantic Salmon Federation has treated us really well, he stated. “Everybody involved has been really impressive,” Foster noted. “It’s amazing what you get when you have a plan. This has been a great opportunity, a great experience for me as director.”

The Franklin Journal met with Nemeth in May 2021 to learn more about the project. She was contacted recently to obtain updates.

In an Aug. 11 email Nemeth wrote, “The project total cost for construction is $2.2 million and funding to support the work is from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] Fisheries, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Natural Resources Conservation Program, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, Cascade Foundation, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Davis Foundation, Betterment Fund, Sarah DeCoizart Trust, Enbridge, Inc., Trout and Salmon Foundation, & Fisher Foundation.”

Construction was also made possible through staff support with the Town of Farmington, NOAA Restoration Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and Farmington Water Department, Nemeth noted.

The Walton’s Mill Dam removal and park improvement project was approved by Farmington voters in 2018. It included two road-stream crossing replacements along Clover Mill Road that were completed in 2020 and 2021.

The work totaled over $3 million, Nemeth wrote.


“The contract for construction of the Walton’s Mill Park Project was awarded to H.E. Callahan, an Auburn-based firm, along with subcontracts to E.L. Vining, Adrenaline Electric, and Lakeside Landscape,” she noted. “The lead project engineer is Acadia Civil Works, and the lead landscape architect is David Maynes Studios. Technical design expertise and consulting is also provided by Northeast Archaeology Research Center, Wright-Pierce, Casco Bay Engineering, Trillium Engineering Group, and Field Geology Services. The construction and design team are all based in Maine.

“Temple Stream is flowing freely for the first time in over 240 years and the public park has been improved for the first time in 43 years – both major milestones for the Farmington community and greater region.”

The project has had positive impacts already, Nemeth wrote. “Monitoring of the stream is showing a significant improvement in water quality including the amount of oxygen in the stream and the temperatures too,” she noted. “Monitoring of the exposed areas that were previously underwater with the dam is showing extensive wetland habitats with native vegetation flourishing quickly from seeds that laid dormant all those years. Wetlands will provide habitat for diverse wildlife but also continue to improve water quality too.

“The project has been a focal point for several classes with students at University Maine Farmington, providing an outdoor classroom and hands on experience. The dam removal is now allowing unobstructed passage for endangered Atlantic salmon to migrate upstream into the over 50 miles of stream habitat to spawn.”

As of last week, 154 Atlantic salmon returned to the Kennebec River and have been transported to the Sandy River to finish their life cycle, Nemeth wrote. “Temple Stream has been primed with salmon eggs for over a decade, so any one of those 154 adults could be exploring Temple Stream right now, smelling their way back to the gravel bed biologists planted them into,” she noted.

Maynes was also contacted by The Franklin Journal.


When asked about any particular challenges he faced with the project, Maynes emailed on Aug. 13, “The project timeline was very attenuated – involving numerous stakeholders, consultants, and town representatives. At times the process was contentious – which is typical with dam removals and projects with many different perspectives.

“Folks connect with these old structures and do not like to see them removed. In some ways, this perspective informed much of my design approach for the park and its conceptual foundation; to use the story of the site and its past, through thoughtful re-use of salvage materials and historic themes – but in a contemporary and contextually driven way. Ecological alignment and local patterns informed much of the design as well.”

When asked about rewards received as a result of being involved with this project, Maynes responded, “I believe rural communities in Maine can benefit the most from a landscape architect’s perspective and expertise. Landscape architecture is a very misunderstood profession. Mostly, people assume it is simply suggesting plant types and locations – with little to any additional complexity.”

Landscape architecture is far more intense, personal, and complex, he noted. “Psychology, ecology, architecture, horticulture, engineering – all play major roles in the landscape architect’s toolbox,” Maynes noted. “Psychology in particular, is at the center of it all.”

Understanding connections with people and places is critical, supports successful designed environments, Maynes wrote. “In rural communities, there is often times greater enthusiasm and appreciation when working collaboratively with folks – to imagine/create new precedents for what community open space can support and look like. Thoughtful, cohesive, and context-driven site design creates a place, not just a functional park/open space.

“As a landscape architect, my task is strongly anchored in revealing those place qualities of a site. I do this through listening and learning from people who know the site and its history, as well as interpolating their emotional connections and looking for creative ways to evoke those feelings in the landscape. At Walton’s Mill Park, this was done using recognizable and salvaged [from the site] materials – choreographed and crafted to convey a sense of intent and thoughtfulness.”

Maynes noted, The use of simple dimensional lumber in contemporary ways seeks to speak to the lumber mill and its heritage – not only as it may have felt at that place way back when, but also recognizing that the lumber milled there went on to create a crafted something in the community somewhere.

“It was important for me to convey a sense of craft and heritage in the landscape, albeit in more of a contemporary way,” he wrote. “That’s the designer in me I suppose. And always, recognizing and responding to ecological processes and patterns – both existing and evolving – is a significant part of it.”

Ecology is dynamic, Maynes noted. “It is a perpetuating process of disturbance and recovery. It is change and response,” he wrote. “I find the process of design in rural communities much the same. Which makes sense; people are active participants in ecological processes – whether we are aware of it, or not.”

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