Beaver Lake Dam News - Volume 1: Soliciting Your Input

         

Beaver Lake Dam News

Volume 1 - August 5, 2018

Beaver Lake Dam News is an e-mail communication issued by the BeaverlakeCC.com website to inform website members about current news and developments related to the Beaver Lake Dam Renovation Project


TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE BEAVER LAKE COMMUNITY:

Repairs of the Beaver Lake dam spillway are scheduled to begin in early September and should be finished by mid December, according to T Ford, the construction firm that will do the work.  This process will obviously impact life on and around our lake, and some of you may still have questions about what we can expect as these repairs are accomplished.  Many of your questions may have been answered by the FAQs statement that appeared in the most recent edition of “Beaver Tales” - please see a copy of the FAQs below.

There may remain, for some, concerns that have yet to be addressed, and the Board of Directors of the Beaver Lake Club want to address these concerns as this project gets underway.  Please reply to the email addresses below in response to the following two questions:

(1)  Would you be willing to attend a community-wide meeting within the next several weeks at which members of the Boards of Directors of the Beaver Lake Trust and the Beaver Lake Club and a representative of T Ford would be available to address any and all concerns?

(2) What questions would you be asking?  Knowing this ahead of time will be helpful for preparation of thorough and meaningful answers to your concerns.

If there are more questions than there is interest in attending a meeting, your concerns could be addressed by answers given by T Ford via the Club BOD over an email type response.

Please reply ASAP to Tim Czech at 65blcc@comcast.net or David Poppel at pops349@yahoo.com.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE BEAVER LAKE DAM REPAIR PROJECT - Excerpt From July 2018 Beaver Tales

WHY ARE THE REPAIRS BEING DONE?

Routine inspection of the dam in 2013 by the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety (ODS) revealed a number of structural problems that led to ODS issuing an order for corrections. The primary concerns were deterioration of the sidewalls of the spillway, seepage through the spillway walls, spillway capacity and some minor concerns about trees and brush along the dam. The ODS order set several deadlines and posed, as an alternative to making the necessary repairs, breaching of the dam, with the elimination of Beaver Lake, as we know it.

WHAT WAS THE COMMUNITIES RESPONSE TO THE ODS ORDER?

The owner of the lake and the dam, Beaver Lake Trust, Inc. (BLTI) and its Board of Directors (BOD) immediately met to address the order, and, working together with the Beaver Lake Club Corp (BLCC) and its BOD, began to develop a plan of attack, including contracting with an engineering firm, GEI, who inspected the dam and spillway and drew up preliminary plans, and, ultimately, in consultation with BLTI, BLCC and ODS, created a final design which was then approved by ODS and which will serve as the basis for the repairs to the spillway, satisfying the conditions of the ODS order and preserving Beaver Lake. This has been a time consuming and costly project, but the generous support of the Beaver Lake community has made this possible.

HOW HAVE THE FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS OF THIS PROCESS BEEN HANDLED?

BLTI, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, charged with preservation and protection of Beaver Lake as a resource for its community, is responsible to make the repairs to the dam. Based on the written agreement of July 2010 between BLTI and BLCC, the expenses of BLTI are paid by BLCC. Over the years, since this arrangement began, typical BLTI expenses, such as land taxes and administrative costs, have been paid to BLTI out of the general annual membership dues of BLCC, from which, also, the several expenses of the Club, e.g. water quality assessment and control, beach maintenance, sports and social activities, are supported. Given the anticipated large, additional expense for the dam repair project, the members of BLCC, a number of years ago, voted to raise the necessary funds through an annual assessment of the membership, to be set aside in a separate account, the “dam fund,” from which were to be paid the expenses accrued by BLTI related to the dam, e.g. mandatory, biannual inspections, engineering design costs, etc. Over these years, our community has been unfailing and unselfish in supporting these assessments, and the financial aspects of this project have, thus far, proceeded smoothly. The evidence of willingness on the part of the community to support this project, so vital to the quality of life on Beaver Lake, also demonstrates to potential lenders the resolve of our community to see this project through to its completion. Funding from state or other “outside” sources was not pursued; as such funds generally come with conditions attached that would alter the private status of our lake.

WHAT IS THE CURENT STATUS OF THIS PROJECT?

GEI’s plan has received approval by ODS, and the necessary preliminary permitting has been obtained. In early June 2018, Dick Bonnayer, President of BLTI, met with the Ware Town Manager to proceed with any further necessary permitting, as well as coordinating the repair project with the interests of the town, such as traffic control, associated issues relevant to the bridge over the spillway, and any other concerns raised by the town. On June 13, Dick, along with a representative of GEI, presented the details of the spillway repair project to the Ware Conservation Commission, addressed the concerns of the Commission and are scheduled on the agenda of future meetings to take the next necessary steps in obtaining any and all necessary permits, etc. BLTI has maintained regular contact with ODS to allow necessary coordination with state level officials. Mick Nallen has spent countless hours in discussions and meetings with GEI, state and local officials ever since this project began and has continued to communicate with our community about the progress being made.  The BLTI BOD has reviewed two bids submitted by construction firms, both of whom are approved by the state for such work and who have extensive experience in such projects. The BOD selected T Ford, a company from Georgetown, MA. BLTI, with its lawyer, is now drawing up a contract with T Ford for completion of the spillway repairs, using the approved plans from GEI. In addition to the specifications required to repair and correct any and all inadequacies of the spillway, these plans include a design for replacement of the “stop logs” by which the level of the lake is regulated. The new design will allow more precise regulation by an apparatus that will be much easier and safer to employ than the present, nearly 80 year-old apparatus. BLTI will also employ a GEI engineer to serve as an on-site project manager to closely supervise the work, assuring compliance with the approved construction specifications by T Ford and reporting frequently to BLTI and BLCC. This information will be regularly sent along to the Beaver Lake community via an electronic mailing, like the current Beaver Bytes.  While the contract with T Ford is being drawn up, Larry Donn, representing both BLTI and BLCC, has been meeting with local banks in pursuit of a loan to cover the construction costs. It is not as yet clear whether the banks will wish to make the loan to BLTI, the owner of the lake and the dam, or to BLCC, the source of funding for repayment of the loan, or to both. It is possible that the banks will require lake community members to sign guarantees for the loan.  These negotiations remain in progress at this time. The T Ford bid proposed a cost of about $270,000. While the BLCC “dam fund” has covered the approximately $95,000 in inspections and planning expenses incurred thus far, the fund now still contains over $75,000 which can serve as part of a “down payment” on a construction loan and will serve us well as we negotiate for such a loan. Again, we can take pride in the foresight and generosity of the members of our community, and BLTI and BLCC remain grateful to the community for its support.

IS THERE A CURRENT TIMETABLE FOR COMPLETION OF THE REPAIRS?

In the absence of any unexpected delays, we hope to complete all the necessary permitting, contracting with T Ford and arranging funding during June and July, and construction should begin just after Labor Day this year. The target date is September 4, 2018. T Ford expects to be able to complete the work within 90 days. Then, subject to final state inspections, and, perhaps the need to do some final planting and reseeding of the construction site next Spring, we ought to have this project behind us, except for the obligation to pay off the loan, funds for which will come, as we have anticipated, from ongoing assessments of the BLCC membership, until the loan is paid off.

WHAT IMPACT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE CONSTRUCTION ITSELF?

Giving a full and precise answer to this question may not be possible until we have had a chance to review certain specifics with T Ford. At the moment, it seems that the following can be assumed.  As mentioned above, construction will begin just after Labor Day and last for approximately 90 days. During that time, an area, the exact location and dimensions of which are yet to be determined, will serve as a staging and storage area for construction equipment and materials. This is likely to be in and around the BLCC sign board area. Also, various erosion control barriers will be required to be in place. Beaver Lake Rd, going over the spillway and along the dam, may need to be closed from time to time. Construction related activities will obviously generate a certain amount of noise, the extent of which is not yet fully known. It is possible that pumps, necessary to keep the work area dry, will run 24/7, for a time.

 PERHAPS OF GREATEST INTEREST TO THOSE WHO USE BEAVER LAKE is the impact of this project on the level of the lake. In order to perform the repairs to the spillway, water, usually draining over the spillway, will need to be diverted away to keep the spillway area “dry.” This will be accomplished by placement of a coffer dam into the lake not too far from the spillway. Water that needs to exit the lake will be diverted away from the construction area via pumps. It is anticipated that at some point, early in the construction process, all the old stop logs will be removed from the existing spillway structure, and this has the potential to drop the level of the lake by about 3 and a half feet. The coffer dam may mitigate this level change to some degree, but we still need to clarify with T Ford how this will all play out. Two areas of concern arise from this element of the repair/construction process: (1) impact on boating and other on-water activities and (2) well water levels.  With respect to boating and related activities, it is likely that the level of the lake will drop to or, perhaps, even below usual winter levels earlier than usual, namely just after Labor Day, as construction begins. As a result of this, boat owners will have to consider removing their boats from the lake earlier than they may have done in past years. The same applies to floats, docks and other such structures. Once a date for this change is made certain by T Ford, the BLCC membership will be informed immediately so appropriate measures can be taken by members. Of note, this might be a good year for lakeside members to consider shoreline or dock repairs, etc. that might be easier to perform in a lower water situation. Once the repairs are completed, and the new stop logs become functional, presumably some time in December 2018, the lake can be allowed to “refill.” Prior analyses suggest that, given average rain-snow conditions, the lake ought to return to normal levels over the course of about three months and be “ready to go” by the time we all want to get our docks and boats back into the water next Spring.

While, historically, when the lake level dropped more than usual, a number of wells may have failed to perform normally, these wells were most often on properties that were “challenged” with respect to elevation above the lake and the general surrounding water table. Most, if not all, of these properties have since converted over to more reliable artesian wells. In general, due to the fact that the lake and shallow wells depend on underground springs and groundwater levels, it is expected that the proposed level of lowering of Beaver Lake will not impact these wells. Property owners with shallow wells who have experienced problems during significant droughts may be at greater risk if a dry spell is combined with significant lowering of the lake.

Anyone should feel free to pursue clarification of the above or to pose further questions by contacting members of the BLTI and BLCC BODs and/or David Poppel (pops349@yahoo.com)