FARMINGTON — Sunny skies greeted attendees Friday morning, Sept. 29, for the dedication of the dam removal at Walton’s Mill Park and recently completed renovations.

Betty Jespersen at left and Bayla Beane sit at one of the picnic tables in the new pavilion Friday morning, Sept. 29, before the Walton’s Mill Park dedication in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Before the dedication, Betty Jespersen and Bayla Beane sat at one of the picnic tables in the new pavilion.

“Isn’t this marvelous,” Beane enthused.

“The plantings, things for kids to climb on and this huge field,” Jespersen pointed out. “The walkways are so accessible. I am proud of everybody involved. They did an outstanding job.”

The more than $3 million project took seven years to complete. It included the removal of the dam at Walton’s Mill Park, renovations at the park and two stream crossing replacements along Clover Mill Road. The dam was built in 1820 and came under town ownership in 1977. The park was created in 1980 through the efforts of resident Mary Wright.

In 2017, selectmen authorized a feasibility study on fish passage options at Walton’s Mill Pond Dam. The Atlantic Salmon Federation provided funding for the study which provided options for the dam and town park.


In 2018, the board supported a $1.2 million proposal from the Atlantic Salmon Federation to remove the Walton’s Mill Dam and upgrade the surrounding public park, at no cost to the town, which also required voters approval. The town was deemed in violation of the Endangered Species Act because the dam blocked salmon from getting up Temple Stream to spawn.

That November, voters approved the dam’s removal 2,031 to 1,195.

Walton’s Mill Park now features improved an 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.

Three of the four musical instruments at Walton’s Mill Park are seen Friday morning, Sept. 29, prior to the dedication of the park in Farmington. Farmington Rotary installed the instruments ahead of its 100th anniversary. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Musical instruments provided by Farmington Rotary, donated in advance of the chapter’s centennial in 2025 are located behind the pavilion in the natural play area.

All of the partners working together have created this beautiful space for everyone to enjoy, Maranda Nemeth, project manager with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, said. It has been nothing but success in working with the town, she noted. “I feel good about meeting our commitment,” she stated.

The Department of Transportation gave some funding towards road improvement work done in 2020 and 2021, Nemeth said. She noted Clover Mill Road didn’t flood this spring after all the rain.


“We will continue working in the area, in Temple, Chesterville and Phillips, work with the DOT on roads they own and working across communities within the Sandy River watershed,” she added.

In an email to The Franklin Journal in August, 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. Together, this work totaled over $3 million.”

Karyl Condit of Farmington is seen using the camera station which documents changes in Temple Stream at Walton’s Mill Park Friday morning, Sept. 29, prior to the park dedication. Her husband, Roger Condit looks on. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Farmington resident Karyl Condit said she and her husband, Roger Condit have a camp in Temple, have been watching the progress of the renovations unfold. “This is a beautiful place,” she noted. “We have been here many times, have had picnics in the pavilion, have brought visitors. It’s a very restorative place, it’s wonderful. I love the natural plantings.”

John Burrows, executive director of U.S. operations, Atlantic Salmon Federation, was the first to speak at the dedication. “I am really thrilled to see so many great partners on this project and so many folks from the community,” he said. “Thank you so much for being here today to celebrate the dam removal project and the creation of this beautiful park for the town of Farmington.”

John Burrows, executive director of U.S. operations, Atlantic Salmon Federation at left speaks Friday morning, Sept. 29, at the Walton’s Mill Park dedication in Farmington. Also seen is Stephen Bunker, vice chair of the Farmington Select Board. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

Many folks in the Farmington community worked on this, along with multiple federal and state agencies and the private sector, Burrows stated. He recognized Tom Holt with the water department, Phil Hutchins at Public Works, the Conservation Commission, Farmington Historical Society, Farmington Select Board, former town manager Richard Davis and staff at the University of Maine Farmington for their efforts. He hoped the Farmington community would appreciate the park for years to come.


The Sandy River is critical to Atlantic Salmon, fish from Temple Stream may now make their way to the Kennebec River, Burrows said. “There is a lot of history at this site going back 200 years,” he noted.

“This is the classic best example of a private/public partnership,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said. Vice Chair of the Select Board, Bunker represented the town at the dedication.

He spoke of hearing people say what a great community Farmington is. “We are the best little town around,” he stated. Bunker referred to the park as a gold star for Farmington. It puts Farmington on the map, he said.

Two stream crossings, dam removal and park redesign costs were over $3 million, without taxpayers having to support the work, Bunker stressed. “Temple Stream is flowing freely for the first time in over 240 years, already we are seeing improvements,” he stated.

Maranda Nemeth, project manager with Atlantic Salmon Federation at back right talks about Walton’s Mill Park Friday morning, Sept. 29, following the park’s dedication in Farmington. David Maynes, landscape architect for the project is seen at back left. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“It’s a joy to see a project like this and all of the partners working together,” Casey Clarke, with Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat Bureau of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, said. He noted 95% of Atlantic Salmon habitat in Maine is currently blocked by dams or other barriers. He celebrated the removal of the dam. Temple Stream makes up about 10% of all the salmon habitat in the entire Sandy River watershed, which stretches as far north as Madrid Township and Rangeley, he stated.

Temple Stream is a high quality habitat, fry [recently hatched or juvenile fish] survive much better here than some other areas, Clarke said. It is important to see it is accessible by salmon now, he added.


“When people stop talking, you can hear the stream,” John F. Kocik, Ph.D., Chief of the Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research NEFSC, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Department of Commerce, said. “For the fish that were knocking on the door of the Walton’s Mill Dam, the last 28 miles of their journey just got a lot easier.”

It’s miraculous how a community can work together, he noted. “Moving money and resources takes time. This project looked impossible at times, but Maranda Nemeth’s commitment made it work. It takes a lot of people to make something like this happen.”

“It is truly amazing what has happened here,” Chris Meaney, project leader with the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said. This is the 50th year of the Endangered Species Act. In addition to salmon, American eels, a multitude of birds and turtles will benefit from the work done here, he noted. It’s not just here but further up in the watershed, he stated.

“I am jealous I don’t have this park in my community,” Meaney stated. “I encourage you all to continue to be good stewards of this site and others across Maine. Congratulations on a job well done. You earned it.”

Following the speeches, attendees were invited to explore the new amenities at the park and speak with those involved with the project.

Landscape architect for the project David Maynes explained to one visitor that some of the granite used in the park was repurposed from former uses in Farmington while other pieces came from the quarry in Jay.

“It’s a really nice spot,” he stated. “It came out really nice.”

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