The town has brokered a deal with Goose River Hydro, owner of Swan Lake Dam, for the purchase of the dam and water rights to the lake. The sale is contingent on residents' approving the expenditure of $150,000 plus closing costs from unappropriated funds to buy the dam.

Swanville First Selectman Cindy Boguen said in a press release that she was contacted by one of the co-owners in May about the possible sale of dam to an out-of-state investor who was considering removing it.

If the dam were removed, she said, it would change the entire lake and all the lakefront properties. “The dam holds back about eight feet of water.”

Boguen said Garnett Robinson, the assessors' agent, predicted the town would have a “sudden and severe” loss of tax revenue if the dam were removed. “Local taxes could increase up to three times the current rate,” she said, and added that the Board of Selectmen recommends the purchase so there will be no tax increase.

Robinson said it is not often that he advocates for the purchase of a taxable property, especially a dam with licensing issues, by a municipality. The potential of lowering the lake by about eight feet would adversely affect many landowners in the three communities that surround Swan Lake.

"With this purchase, the dam and lakefront landowners in Swanville, Frankfort and Searsport will be protected for years to come," Robinson said.

Bill Baxter, treasurer of Swan Lake Association, said Goose River Hydro was not granted a license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because it did not effectively meet all the requirements.

"Normally the licenses are granted to large companies," he said, "but Goose River is one or two guys and the licensing requirements may have overwhelmed them." If the license is not renewed, Baxter said, this effectively puts the company out of business.

Without the dam, Baxter said, Swan Lake would revert to Goose Pond, the original body of water on the north side of the lake, and Goose River on the south.

The town estimates it would lose about two thirds of property tax revenue. “It only makes sense, it is a huge resource for the area,” Baxter said. “The town negotiated a reasonable price, and the town will maintain it.”

This, he said, is great news for people on the lake, who have suffered uneven lake levels. Currently there are 340 properties on Swan Lake. Of those, 100 or so are in Frankfort and Searsport and 200 or more are in Swanville.

Swanville resident and lake association member Peggy Stout said she is pleased the town of Swanville is considering purchasing the dam.

“It makes the most sense, as the owners of the dam have not been able to do what they had intended with the dams and make hydro power,” she said. Swanville, as well as Searsport and Frankfort, has a vested interest in keeping Swan Lake the body of water it is for the cottages and residents around the lake to use and enjoy, Stout said.

Property owner and former Swanville resident Patty Keyes said for decades the water levels on the lake have been under the control of the individuals and corporations that have owned the power-generating dams on Goose River. Prior to Goose River Hydro owning the dam, she said, water levels were so low "you could practically walk to the dam opening and look down the chute."

She has heard no word from the sport fishing community of any negative changes due to lower levels, aside from the “aggravation of dragging a dinghy further across rocks to put in.”

However, she said, this irritates virtually all the camp owners, who put out their docks and floats in May to squeeze as much enjoyment out of the short summers as possible. The water level on the lake drops so far that they are forced to reposition their docks and move the moorings on their floats as much as 50 feet out from their original desired location.

Swan Lake Association members are thrilled to see the town recover control over its greatest asset, she said, and will be directly involved in creating the necessary town ordinances to oversee and protect this new responsibility. “And having spent time with them,” Keyes said, “I can say that the town, and the lake, will be in very good hands.”

The Republican Journal contacted Nicholas Cabral of Goose River Hydro who declined to comment for this story.

An informational meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m. at the Town Hall parking lot, and a vote will take place Nov. 21, also at the Town Hall parking lot. Masks are required, Boguen noted.