Sunday, July 20, 2014

Work on the dam has begun

Work has started on the Fyfeshire Dam project. The contractor, Kaszowski Brothers out of Charlton MA, started tree cutting on June 30 and are laying down the temporary access road out to Collins Road in Berlin. Many thanks to Missy and Jeff O'Dell for allowing the work crew to have access through their property!

The work will be going on for approximately 60 days, according to Carol Gumbart, Bolton Conservation Commission Administrator. The contractors have begun to put in place the coffer dam and are in the process of getting their water management plan approved by the Office of Dam Safety. As soon as it is approved they will proceed with the rest of the coffer dam construction and removal of the “old” dam to the approved height.

If you take a walk down to the dam, you will notice orange snow fencing across the trail to mark the work area. Please stay clear of the construction site while the work is going on. Once the dam has been lowered, stabilized and revegetated, the trail can be reopened. Below are a few photos:
Trees cleared, photo taken on July 7.
View of the dam on July 7.

View of the dam from pond bank, July 14.

Side view of the dam, July 14.

Access road to the dam.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What’s been happening with the Fyfeshire Dam? Hearing on July 30

Since the town of Bolton voted unanimously to spend money to lower the crest of the dam in May 2012, the town has been working toward making this happen.  Last summer, it put out a Request for Proposal for the environmental permitting needed to lower the dam crest and received three responses. A selection committee was formed consisting of three members of the Conservation Commission (Amy Wilson, Mark Sprague and Carol Gumbart), Board of Selectmen Chairman Stan Wysocki, and Town Administrator Don Lowe as voting members, and representatives from Historical, Advisory and Department of Public Works as non-voting members.  The committee chose Lenard Engineering, Inc.
Now the real work is about to begin.  Abutters have just received notice that a public hearing will be held at the Bolton Town Hall on Tuesday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. in which Lenard Engineering and subcontractor the ESS Group (environmental consultants) will outline plans for lowering the crest of the dam and the impacts to wetland resource areas associated with Fyfeshire Pond and the downstream brook.  You are encouraged to attend and hear firsthand how this work will be done and get answers to any questions you may have about the project.  In the meantime, you can read the Notice of Intent on the Town of Bolton website.  (All documents related to the Fyfeshire Dam project are located here: )

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What’s Next for Fyfeshire?

At Bolton Town Meeting on May 7, the town unanimously passed a resolution appropriating $250,000 to lower the dam crest at Fyfeshire. This solution would keep the dam and ponds in place while lessening the danger of a sudden catastrophic release of flood water.  (Learn more about this solution from our Feb. 14 posting.) 

Since then, the town has received an extension from the Office of Dam Safety until June 2013 to bring the dam into compliance.  A consultant recently completed a quarterly inspection and did not find the dam in any worse condition since the last inspection.  The Conservation Commission is in the process of putting together a Request for Proposal for the work on the dam.

Our group will continue to monitor progress and help out where we can add value.  We plan to continue to hold events to raise money for landscaping around the dam and for maintenance of Fyfeshire Conservation area.  With your help, we hope to keep Fyfeshire a beautiful natural area for all to enjoy.  

Your tax-deductible donations can be made to:
Friends of the Oxbow (on check, please write Fyfeshire on the memo line)
P.O. Box 646
Bolton, MA 01740

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fyfeshire article passed unanimously at Bolton Town Meeting

At Bolton Town Meeting last night, article #14 appropriating $250,000 to lower the dam crest passed unanimously.  Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting (a long one--it continues into tonight) and said "Aye" to Fyfeshire. 


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bolton Town Meeting: YES to Fyfeshire Article #14

At the May 7 Annual Town Meeting, the town will be asked to vote on appropriating $250,000 to fund the lowering of the crest of the dam at Fyfeshire Conservation Area.  We, the Group for the Preservation of Fyfeshire Ponds, are asking you to vote YES to this article.

As you may know, in 2009 the state Office of Dam Safety declared the Fyfeshire lower dam unsafe and has required the Town of Bolton to repair or remove it. After much debate—repair or remove—a third alter­native has presented itself: to lower the crest of the dam by about three feet. This alternative has four benefits:
  • It makes the dam safer in a large storm by eliminating the possi­bility of raised water levels building up pressure behind the dam
  • It keeps the ponds intact
  • It removes the dam from state jurisdiction 
  • It is the lowest cost alternative
The Board of Selectmen has unanimously recommended this solution, and both candidates for selectman, Connie Benjamin and Larry Delaney support this solution.  For more on this proposal, see our blog posting New alternative would keep the Fyfeshire Ponds intact.

What other choice do we have?  To do nothing risks having the state begin slapping fines on the town to the tune of $500 a day.  To date, the state has worked with the town on this issue and has granted extensions to the deadline for fixing the problem because it believes Bolton has made a good faith effort towards a solution.  That may change if this article is voted down at town meeting.

It should be noted that Helen Plummer donated Fyfeshire Conservation Area to the town free and clear in 1969, and for 40 years the town has enjoyed the use of the area without major expenses.  A few grants have helped to build the bridge over the small pond and make repairs to the dam.  The trail maintenance has been done by volunteers.

Please support our efforts to keep Fyfeshire Conservation Area a beautiful recreation spot for all to enjoy. Your tax-deductible donations to defray costs of lowering the dam and maintain the trails in Fyfeshire can be made to:
Friends of the Oxbow (on check, please write Fyfeshire on the memo line)
P.O. Box 646
Bolton, MA 01740
Thanks !

Friday, May 4, 2012

History comes to life at Fyfeshire

On a cool but sunny Saturday afternoon, Fyfeshire's past came to life for a few hours as William and Josephine Fyfe, Helen Plummer, a farmer and his wife, an apprentice button maker, and others returned to Fyfeshire to tell their stories. The photos below give you an idea of what hikers experienced as they made their way along the trail. Many thanks to Ken Horton for sharing his photographs!

Josephine and William Fyfe IV (Rona and John Balco) welcome you to Living History Day at Fyfeshire Conservation Area on Wattaquadock Hill Rd.

A woman from 1870s Bolton (Edi Ablavsky) helps Roger Breeze and Debbie Horton plan their route.
A farmer (Richard Tripp) demonstrates his scything skills.

A plaque describes the button manufacturing mill that was located on the small pond.  This is one of three new plaques on display at Fyfeshire.
An apprentice at the button shop (Martha Remington) explains the process of button making in the 1870s.
Mr. and Mrs. Fyfe talk about their lives in agricultural Bolton. 

Never one to waste time, Mrs. Fyfe plies her needle as they talk.
Lovely backdrop to their conversation.
A pickerel frog (Ada Woolston) talks about wildlife at Fyfeshire and the dam repair project.
Showing off her spots.

The dam--notice the buckling wall on the right, with the large crack running through it.
John Bailey (Alex Ablavsky), a young man from Clinton in 1899.
John tells Roger Breeze about the terrible railroad accident he witnessed, in which Mr. Fyfe met his end.
Helen Plummer (Lee Galeski), the grandaughter of William and Josephine Fyfe, donated Fyfeshire Conservation Area to the town of Bolton in 1969.
Hikers sample corn bread, ginger snaps, and old-fashioned candies washed down with cider (not hard), lemonade and iced tea. The farmer is NOT aiming at Mr. Fyfe but at a nearby possum.
Josephine Fyfe shows off the possum the farmer bagged.
The farmer and his wife (Richard and Susan Tripp).
From left:  William Fyfe (John Balco), Helen Plummer (Lee Galeski), 1870s woman (Edi Ablavsky), Josephine Fyfe (Rona Balco), John Bailey (Alex Ablavsky), Frog (Ada Woolston), Farmer's wife (Susan Tripp), and Farmer (Richard Tripp)
Sawyer House held special hours to give visitors and chance to visit after their hike through Fyfeshire.
A special display dedicated to Fyfeshire.  On left is a portrait of William Fyfe IV (not John Balco, though it's hard to tell them apart) and to the right is a reproduction of the cabin at Fyfeshire that Helen Plummer painted.
Combs manufactured in Bolton in the late 1800s.

Debbie Horton, Mary Cuomo and Teresa Sauer rest their tired feet for a moment.

Saturday, April 28, 2012