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Group Hired to Find Lake Fairlee Dam Fix

Thetford — DuBois & King, Inc. has been hired to find solutions for fixing the ailing Lake Fairlee Dam, and a Fairlee selectman said he expects the public will have the chance to comment on proposals by summer’s end.

The Randolph-based consulting engineers were chosen last month through a competitive bidding process to determine options for fixing the dam — which has a small camp house perched on top of it — as well as the associated permitting, scheduling and construction costs, said Fairlee Selectman Frank J. Barrett.

“We’re hoping by later in the summer, we’ll be able to have some public information hearings,” Barrett said. “It’s been very rewarding to see three towns work (together) well.”

The dam, which is more than 200 years old and sits on privately-owned property in Thetford, controls the water-line for Lake Fairlee, which has shoreline in Thetford, Fairlee and West Fairlee. Barrett said that if the dam were to fail, it could reduce the shoreline by 8 to 12 feet, leaving smelly mud-flats in front of $63 million worth of property around the lake’s edge.

A group of officials and residents from each of the three towns has been meeting for more than a year to determine a course of action.

Town Meeting voters from each of the towns approved contributing a total of $30,000 to fund a preliminary analysis of the dam and possible fixes. Four other organizations along the lake — the Aloha Foundation, which operates camps on the lake; the Lake Fairlee Association, a nonprofit which, among other things, oversees milfoil reduction on the lake; Camp Lochearn; and Camp Billings — chipped in $5,000 apiece, for a total pot of $50,000.

The DuBois & King contract cost about $25,000, Barrett said. The remaining money will go toward expenses associated with the next steps.

Barrett said he hopes the towns might put forth a bond vote by 2014 and see construction begin by 2014-15.

More information is available online at www.lakefairleedam.info.