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Lake Warner dam repairs get started

  • Mark Sadlowski, left, and Andy Blajda, both of Hadley, fish off of a boat June 20, 2017 at Lake Warner in Hadley. After more than four years of planning, fundraising and setbacks, the Lake Warner Dam will undergo repairs to preserve the deteriorating structure. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A filter sock, set up June 20, 2017 near the Lake Warner Dam in Hadley, aids in sediment control. After more than four years of planning, fundraising and setbacks, the dam will undergo repairs to preserve the deteriorating structure. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Andy Blajda of Hadley fishes off a boat Tuesday at Lake Warner in Hadley. Below, water flows over Lake Warner dam. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY PHOTOS

  • Joe Pegurri, operations manager for Edward Paige Corp, left, and Morris Root, principal engineer for Root Engineering, talk June 20, 2017 about repairs planned to preserve the deteriorating structure at Lake Warner Dam in Hadley, after more than four years of planning, fundraising and setbacks on the project. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Lake Warner dam in Hadley will undergo repairs to preserve the deteriorating structure after more than four years of planning, fundraising and setbacks. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Andy Blajda of Hadley fishes off of a boat June 20 at Lake Warner in Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Lake Warner Dam in Hadley, shown June 20, 2017, will undergo repairs to preserve the deteriorating structure after more than four years of planning, fundraising and setbacks. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Joe Pegurri, operations manager for Edward Paige Corp, left, and Morris Root, principal engineer for Root Engineering, talk June 20, 2017 about repairs planned to preserve the deteriorating structure at Lake Warner Dam in Hadley, after more than four years of planning, fundraising and setbacks on the project. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Lake Warner is show from the bridge that runs across it June 20, 2017 in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Mark Baymon of Springfield puts on a life-jacket June 20, 2017 before launching a boat into Lake Warner in Hadley. After more than four years of planning, fundraising and setbacks, the Lake Warner Dam will undergo repairs to preserve the deteriorating structure. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



@dustyc123
Thursday, June 22, 2017

HADLEY — After more than four years of talks, planning, setbacks and fundraising, work finally began Tuesday to repair the historic dam at Lake Warner, also known as North Hadley Pond.

The repairs will save both the deteriorating historical structure as well as the lake it created, which have existed for more than 350 years and have served as a popular recreational destination for locals. A picturesque site that has powered the area’s small mills, state inspectors declared the current dam — built in 1919 — to be structurally deficient in December 2012, prompting the repair project that has received state, local and private funding.

“I’m excited to see it start on a sunny day,” said Kristin DeBoer, the executive director of Kestrel Land Trust, which currently controls the limited liability corporation that owns the dam. “I think it is about connecting with the natural area of rural Hadley. I think it is about the history.”

Sweat dripped down fishermen’s faces as they launched boats from the nearby ramp on Tuesday, the putt-putt-putt of their engines and the chirping of birds rising above the sound of water cascading over the dam.

Twenty-five-year-old Hadley resident Andy Blajda stood in his boat, trolling slowly across the placid water as he cast his line. When asked what the area meant to him, Blajda seemed confounded by such a simple question: “It’s part of home.”

Preparation work had started on Tuesday with the laying out of compost-filled filter socks — a long, snake-like material that the project’s contractor and engineer described as a sediment-control measure.

Once preparations are complete, in-water construction work will begin in early July and is slated for completion in October. Cranes will work from the bridge on Mount Warner Road to place into the water a cofferdam, which will serve as a temporary dam that will allow workers to patch the historic dam.

Funding for the preservation work comes from several different sources: $100,000 from Hadley’s Community Preservation Act funds, $215,000 from a state grant, $125,000 from a state earmark and $50,000 from private donors that will be held in a maintenance fund for future work.

Securing those funds was far from an easy task; voters had to approve the CPA funds, organizers had to fundraise to secure private donations and former Gov. Deval Patrick vetoed the $125,000 state earmark back in 2014 before it was reallocated the following year.

Despite those snags, DeBoer said she and others remained optimistic throughout the process.

“I always think things will get done, but we do need to be patient sometimes,” she said.

The Friends of Lake Warner and the Mill River, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and responsible use of the lake and river, will assume ownership and stewardship of the dam when repairs are complete.

Efforts to contact members of the friends group for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

As with any construction project, however, the summer’s work won’t be without some small headaches for local residents.

A small section of Mount Warner Road between Stockwell Road and River Drive will be closed throughout the duration of the work. The boat ramp will also be temporarily closed as heavy construction takes place on the bridge, and boaters are advised to stay away from the bridge at all times.

But despite the construction, local enthusiasm for the area and its preservation is what’s driving the project, DeBoer said.

Morris Root, the engineer in charge of the project, has decades of experience repairing old dams.

“For a long time, people came here to mill their wheat, mill their corn, saw their timber,” he said, waxing romantic about the historical importance of dams and mills as local residents cast their fishing lines in the background.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.