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Dam work estimated at $334,000

Saturday, April 26, 2014 - Updated: 9:20 AM



WELLS -- The Wells Town Board plans to advertise for bids in June for work needed on the Lake Algonquin dam, estimated at $334,000. When the bids come in the board will have a better idea of the cost.

A 2012 inspection revealed several age-related repairs are needed. Problems include areas of spalled concrete, cracks and other defects in the dam structure and erosion in part of the clay blanket that keeps water from going under the dam.

The board heard a presentation from engineers Matt Cooper and Casey Dickersen of Bernier, Carr & Assoc., Watertown, and Senior Civil Engineer Bill Friers of CDM Smith, Latham, Monday, April 7.

In addition to fixing the spalled concrete and cracks they recommend replacing the eroded part of the clay blanket with concrete. They agree one contractor could do the work in about eight weeks.

Friers said the best time to do the project is during August, September and October.

The estimated cost of $334,000 includes a 15 percent contingency line to cover any other problems encountered during the project.

An inspector to ensure work is meeting the contract requirements would be an additional cost. Cooper said an inspector receives $95 an hour, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would probably want one on the project.

Discussion on the pros and cons of drawing down the lake to do the project indicated it would cost more but take less time if the lake is not lowered; lowering the lake would involve the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.


The dam was built in 1924, partially rehabilitated in 1949, reconstructed in 1959 and modified in 1987 by adding the 698-kilowatt hydroelectricity plant.

The electricity it generates is sold into the power grid, with net revenues averaging about $26,000 yearly used to reduce town taxes.

While revenue figures are firm, expense figures are a little squishy. "The number is a little rough on the disbursement side because some earlier routine costs were in budget line items not dedicated to the plant. We changed that in 1996," Towers explained.

In other words, during the first eight years of the hydro plant's operation the disbursement numbers may be slightly off. As close as Towers can figure disbursements for the 25 years the plant has been operating total $4.22 million. Revenues total $4.87 million.

Total net revenues as of the end of 2013 were $647,939, according to Towers' figures.


John G. Zeis has been appointed to the town's Board of Assessment Review, to fill the remainder of Paul D. Venier's term through Sept. 30, 2018. Venier died in March.

He had served on the board since 2008. The board unanimously adopted a resolution honoring Venier. It says in part he "was highly regarded by this community for his involvement and support of our youth, and by his many peers in public service for his even temperament and sense of duty."


-- Lake Algonquin Hydroelectric Plant revenues for March total $35,099; expenditures were $650. Year-to-date revenues total $46,228, with expenditures of $2,446.

-- Bids are being sought from persons interested in providing lawn care this year for the three active cemeteries within the town. They are due by May 8 at noon and will be opened May 12.

-- Wells will get $9,000 more in Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program funding from the state this year than last year, bringing the total to $85,825.

Note: This article is primarily based on draft minutes of the Wells Town Board meeting of April 7, 2014, as provided by Town Clerk Mari Wilson.


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