2015-12-18 / Letters

Possible removal of dams raises concerns

To the editor:

In response to several discussions regarding property values after dam demolitions, we would ask that Kennebunk residents review a study available on the internet “DOI 2012 Assessment of Potential Changes to Real Estate Resulting from Dam Removal …” that summarizes the effects on property values of many of the dam removals across the country and four dams on the Klamath River in particular.

At the Nov. 16 Kennebunk Light and Power District meeting and in a recent Post letter to the editor, a study done by professor Lynne Lewis et al. was referenced as evidence that property values go up when dams are demolished and rivers “freed.”

The study dealt with the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in 1999.

Yes, property values did go up in this instance, but that was because the river (and dam) was so near the undesirable industrial area of Augusta that once the dam was gone and industry with it, urban revitalization occurred which increased property values. (Klamath, page 22.) This is not the case in Kennebunk, where property along the river is desirable now.

This is a very complex issue, and it is crucial to compare apples to apples as far as possible. The Klamath study documents the removal of four dams owned by PacifiCorp out west. On page 12, a table of property values presents data that more closely resembles Kennebunk’s context with desirable water frontage and views. The property value losses were between 30-33 percent What if that happens here?

We all heard at the Nov. 16 meeting that already one house sale in town fell through just due to the prospect of the dams being removed and that its price was significantly lowered.

Many people who are in favor of the demolition of the dams describe this concern as a “fear”— as if to say it is irrational, unfounded and exaggerated. No, this concern is a part of soberly weighing the risk of making an irreversible decision. Property value is not a concern of the River Alliance. They largely pass by the issue until it impedes their arguments. It is also not a direct concern of Kennebunk Light and Power—electrical rates are more their concern. But this must be a concern of the residents of Kennebunk who may see their mil rates increase if assessments lower.

It also must be a concern of the town leadership. It is because of this and other weighty concerns that we hope the district will return the dams to the town. Kennebunk residents and leadership can then decide what is best for our town.

Shawn and Donna Teague
Kennebunk

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