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State expected to approve funding to fix dams in Ledyard

Ledyard — The state Bonding Commission is expected on Thursday to approve $3 million in state funding for projects here including money to repair three Colonial-era dams on Long Pond and Bush Pond.

Then town got the news late last week when state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and Mayor Fred Allyn III said the Bond Commission is expected to approve money for bridge and dam upgrades, including upgrading pump stations, adding a storage tank and extending an emergency connection in Ledyard. 

The conservation group Lantern Hill Valley Association and the McKee Farm Trust have been working to get funding for the estimated $1 million needed to repair the three dams they own. The organizations did not have the money to do the work.

"I'm thrilled. It's been 10 long years that we've been pushing at this," LHVA member Betsy Graham said Sunday. "This benefits the whole region."

Graham pointed out LHVA has been maintaining, inspecting and paying taxes on the dams for 50 years.

"Senator Osten recogized that and the value they provide to the region," she said.

Graham said the funding will ensure the dams, bridges and adjacent roads will remain intact during major storms to come.

"It's a big relief that future generations will not have to worry about these things," she said.

Last month David Keehn, the president of the LHVA, said repairing the dam is important from safety, recreational and environmental perspectives. He added if the dams failed, the water could endanger downstream properties.

LHVA also is working with the environmental group Save the Sound to install a fishway through the Long Pond Dam that will connect Whitford Brook into Long Pond. This will allow anadromous fish, such as river herring, which spend their lives in both saltwater and fresh water, to return to the pond for the first time in 350 years to lay their eggs.

Graham said the plan is to coordinate the design and construction of the dams and fishway. 

In announcing the likely funding, Osten said, "Sometimes you get state bonding for a project that seems simple on its face, like repairing some dams and bridges, but which really has other, greater consequences, and I think that's the case here."

"Long Pond and the Whitford Brook are connected to the Mystic River and Long Island Sound, and so they're connected to all of the fish that live in the Sound. It would be great if, along with protecting the integrity of some old dams and the private property downstream, we could give a boost to fish who historically have spawned in Ledyard's freshwater ponds. My expectation is that's what these state funds will ultimately help accomplish," she said.

Ledyard Mayor Allyn added he appreciated Osten supporting "this critical infrastructure investment in Ledyard."

"These are exactly the types of long-term investments that state bonding should be paying for," he said. "I truly appreciate all the work she has done for us here in eastern Connecticut."

j.wojtas@theday.com 

 

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