2016-12-23 / Front Page

Mousam River dams accord sought

Officials from Kennebunk Light and Power and the town plan Jan. 17 meeting
By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The Kennebunk Light and Power District Board of Trustees has agreed to meet with town selectmen to discus the fate of the three Mousam River dams.

That gathering is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the town hall auditorium.

KLP Executive Director Todd Shea said his board “is looking forward to having this meeting.”

“Our hope is to try to keep both boards on the same page, at least on this initial meeting, and to bring the (select) board up to speed so we can hear the board of selectmen’s concern on this process,” Shea said. “We are going to present the unbiased information as it was presented to us.”

On June 15, KLP trustees voted to immediately stop generating power at the Kesslen Dam, adjacent to Route 1, due to age and deteriorating condition of turbines located in the basement of the Lafayette Center, equipment that reportedly dates to 1923.

The dam itself was rebuilt in 1951. At that June meeting, KLP trustees also voted to not pursue federal relicensing of any of the dams. However, as of yet, they have taken no public position on what to do with the dams going forward.

At the general election in November, nearly 70 percent of Kennebunk voters said in a non-binding referendum that the dams should not be torn down.

“So people can be prepared for this meeting, what it will not be is a mud-slinging or he said/she said, I said/ you said (affair),” selectboard chairman Richard Morin said. “We’re just not going to go into that. That exercise would take us much longer than the evening’s scheduled appearance. We welcome (public) input, but I want to go on record hoping that both board chairs will keep this meeting going in an orderly fashion.”

Shea said KLP trustees actually hope for “two simultaneous meetings,” structured “so that each board has the ability to speak and do as they would through their own channels in their own meetings.”

Pardue said he and Shea are looking to bring in an as-yet-unnamed third party to act as meeting facilitator, who would allow members of the public for and against removal of the dams to speak for “a defined period” of equal lengths. The facilitator, he said, will be someone well-versed in the operations of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”

“We’re looking for a good meeting of the two boards that is transparent to the community,” Pardue said.

In a Dec. 19 email, Pardue said, “Discussion with the facilitator is planned for this week with the goal of service engagement

Those with an interest in the dams may want to arrive early for the Jan 17 meeting. Previous public sessions on the topic have filled the town auditorium. However, Pardue said the meeting should be aired on public access television, and later online.

“We are making provisions to broadcast live, if possible. If not, it will re- corded and played back,” he said.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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