Defunct dam on Oxoboxo Brook to be removed

The owners of the dam in the Oxoboxo Brook at the intersection of routes 32 and 163 plan to apply for a permit with the state to remove it next year. (Martha Shanahan/The Day)
The owners of the dam in the Oxoboxo Brook at the intersection of routes 32 and 163 plan to apply for a permit with the state to remove it next year. (Martha Shanahan/The Day)

Montville — The owner of the dam in the Oxoboxo Brook along Route 32 is taking steps to remove it, in what he says will be a win for the brook's ecology, the housing development in the works downstream and his own plans to build a water line west into Montville from the Route 32 corridor.

The dam was once one of several built along the Oxoboxo Brook by manufacturing companies who used them to power mills making everything from paper to wool.

It sits on the brook at a high-traffic intersection of Route 32 and Route 163 and until several years ago was owned by Faria Beede.

Faria Beede, formerly known as Thomas G. Faria Corp., produced speedometers and other gauges at its mill complex downstream of the dam for more than 50 years, until the company announced in February it would be relocating to a more modern facility in North Stonington.

When the mill was built in the 1800s, the dam was used to power manufacturing activity there.

After falling out of use, the dam remained the property of Faria Beede until William Pieniadz, the chairman of Montville's Planning and Zoning Commission and the owner of a construction company, bought it along with his business partner.

Pieniadz and his partner in P&H Construction, John Heller, are exploring plans to use the property they bought to build a water line from the Route 32 corridor into the western side of town. They have owned the dam, the small pond it created, and 28 acres of land on the hill above it for about two years, he said.

They have no use for the dam, he said. And when Dakota Partners, the development company planning to build a housing complex in the former Faria Beede mill buildings, approached him about removing the dam, it sped the process along.

Pieniadz has hired consultants to test the sediment in the brook around the dam before he applies for a dam removal permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

He hopes to start the removal process in the summer of 2018, he said.

"We realized that there was really probably no value in it, environmentally or recreationally," he said.

Dakota Partners saw the aging dam as a liability to their project downstream, he said, so the two entities started the process of having it removed.

The development company met with DEEP officials in August, according to Peter Spangenberg of the DEEP dam safety program.

Faria Beede had applied for a permit to demolish the dam when the company still owned it, Spangenberg said, though it expired after three years without any action.

In addition to the dam removal permit, Pieniadz and Heller will have to get a water quality certificate before they can demolish the structure, he said.

The DEEP dam safety program encourages the demolition of unused dams, a process that can be expensive but can return waterways to their natural state and benefit species that live there, Spangenberg said.

"River restoration and the removal of dams is definitely a good thing we have in the state," he said.

m.shanahan@theday.com 

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