2016-03-11 / Letters

Are residents willing to give up river’s roaring thunder?

To the editor:

When the out-of-town groups first came to Kennebunk bringing along with them their on-the-road tear down the dams campaign, I don’t think they anticipated the raw nerves they would strike for many of us in this community.

They expected the same old, same old apathy they had seen in other Maine communities when they had steamrolled into town after town.

They had no clue that the three bodies of water that have grown behind our dams are such a part of the history, beauty and recreational specialness that make Kennebunk such a unique place to live and play.

Though they don’t get the publicity and crowds, thankfully for the latter, our four beautiful beaches do, their loss would leave a painful scar on our town’s consciousness that would never heal.

Over the years, I’ve talked with locals, many now in their 70s, who told me that their school bus back then was the family rowboat or skiff which they used to cross the Mousam to reach the high school. On the way home, they’d drop a line, hoping to bring fresh fish to the dinner table.

Generations of Kennebunk boys and girls have grown up messing around on the river. Will future generations of our youngsters have that same opportunity?

Back then, many of their parents worked for decades at the town’s then largest employer – the shoe shop, which was powered with energy from the Kesslen Dam. Are we now going to walk away from the cleanest, green energy source in Maine? Why aren’t we discussing replacing those older turbines and dramatically increasing our local energy production?

For more than 40 years now, when I drive southbound over the Main Street bridge, there hasn’t been a time, excepting blizzards, zero-visibility rain, or bridge rebuilding, when I haven’t slowed down, taken a quick glance up the river, drinking in that majestic view of the river’s curve and the trees hugging its banks.

In the fall, the colors are spectacular. Don’t tell me that you don’t do the same.

Our up-close-and-personal memories of the Mousam started in the early 1970s when we lived on Mechanic Street. In the spring, you could hear the roar of the river, a combination of the snowmelt, ice out and spring rains. Our then 4-year-old daughter would beg us, “Please can we go see the roar?” Standing together on the bridge, we’d tightly hold hands and the air was heavy with spray as the Mousam thundered over the dam.

We were pleased to learn last year, that our daughter and her family, now living just a few houses from her early childhood home, still walk to and share the sound and roar of the river thunder.

If the dam tear-downers get their way, that dam will be gone. Its now 14 feet of depth will be reduced to 1.2 feet and the current width of 128 feet will shrink to 40 feet or less. There won’t be much left to see of their Mousam Creek when you drive over the bridge or stand at the rail. The roar and thunder will be gone forever.

Tom Murphy
Kennebunk Landing

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