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Safety issue at Stevens Pond 'risking children's lives'

Allocation of funds in limbo while town meeting delayed
By Fran Gonzalez | May 21, 2020
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Stevens Pond dam, shown here May 21, needs  repairs to fix a hole that could trap a person. All swimming lessons at the pond have been canceled, in part because of the dam safety concerns, as well as the need for social distancing.

Liberty — An article in the town warrant dealing with a safety concern at Stevens Pond Dam is in COVID-19 limbo, after the annual town meeting was indefinitely postponed.

Liberty Selectman Melinda Steves said the new date for the town meeting could possibly be in August, but that it’s “up to the governor,” and that she was waiting to hear when more than 50 people would be allowed to meet.

“Our first concern, as always,” she said, “is people’s safety.”

Calligan Mooring & Dive Service of Searsmont, the contractor hired by the town to make repairs at Lake St. George Dam, in December 2019 investigated a “swirl” that developed near Stevens Pond Dam and identified a hole at the bottom of a piling used to construct the dam.

Pressure from the vacuum created by the hole could possibly "hold you there or suck you through, if small enough," said Richard Calligan, owner of the mooring and dive service. "I would not want my daughter swimming there."

As the weather turns warmer, the town is planning to rope off the swimming area and post a sign that reads “swim at your own risk.”

Steves said, “I’ve not noticed any whirlpools lately, possibly because of debris, but still, we want to be safe.” In previous years, she said, the swimming area was roped off because of concerns about a possible breach in the dam. “We realized there was damage to the dam," she said.

For now, all swimming lessons at the pond have been canceled, in part because of the dam safety concerns, as well as social distancing requirements.

Linda Breslin, president of Citizens' Association of Liberty Lakes, said it is a dangerous situation and that everyone is aware of it. The $52,000 requested cannot be allocated until the town meeting.

The dam discussion has been ongoing, Breslin said, with selectmen wanting to fix the problem before the start of the swimming season. They were looking for funds that already existed and were not allocated, but were unsuccessful.

Breslin is sure that when the repair comes before the town, it will be approved.

“Whenever and however this comes before the town at the annual meeting, it will pass,” she said. “It’s risking children’s lives.”

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