While we have no issue with the submission and enthusiastic promotion of Article 38 by the “Friends of the Grist Mill Dam”, Rational Taxpayers of Hampton is recommending a NO vote on this citizen’s petitioned article, which requests $250,000 for the “rebuilding” the Grist Mill Dam. If approved, the $250,000 would be in addition to the $400,000 voters approved last year in a Selectmen’s sponsored article to “decommission”, or remove the dam, and does not include a $170,000 increase in long-term costs. Our reasoning is as follows.
- Old Mill Pond is on private property with no little or no public access, thus the primary beneficiaries would be the 10 or 12 property owners that abut Old Mill Pond. The property of the lead petitioner and primary spokesman for “The Friends of the Grist Mill Pond” has over 500 feet of frontage and a panoramic view of the pond.
- There is a separate article, #47, on the ballot this year requesting $90,000 for the rebuilding of the Ice Pond dam. The Ice Pond does, in fact, have public access and is supported by the Town’s Conservation Commission, which has committed to look for donations in an effort to reduce the $90,000 cost to the taxpayers. Simply based on the prioritization of taxpayer dollars we just can’t justify supporting both articles and given the public’s legal access to the Ice Pond we can rationalize maintaining the Town’s historical investment in the Ice Pond.
- Expanding on the issue of prioritization of taxpayer dollars, we don’t get the Selectmen voting 4-1 to “Recommend” that the voters approve the $250,000 Grist Mill Pond dam article, yet not supporting the Ice Pond dam with its inherent public access and removing a DPW Director / Town Manager proposed $382,000 Warrant Article for slow-plowing equipment. The Budget Committee opposes the Grist Mill Pond dam article 8-4 with two abstentions.
- It has been stated by supporters that the loss of conservation and recreational area is “extraordinary.” The town’s Conservation Commission, which is both diligent and has always displayed a high level of integrity, has been silent as far as expressing any concerns over the loss of fresh water habitat or other issues within their purview.
- It has been suggested by supporters that the decommissioning of the dam will have a substantial negative impact on flood control. Apparently, the engineers hired by the town didn’t think so. The following is a direct extraction from the Stephen’s Engineering report.
“The dam stages about 30 to 32 percent of the 100-year flood; i.e. it reduces downstream flows by about 30 to 32 percent by storing water as the pond fills. The actual benefit, however, appears small, reducing the 100-year flood at the High Street culvert by about 75 cfs and the depth of overtopping High Street by about 0.2 feet. Further, this benefit is provided for a short duration, on the order of 2 hours, over which pond inflow peaks and subsides.”
We are anticipating proposals in the near future for large expenditures on essential services, for example, Exeter Road, Hampton Academy upgrades and so on. We believe that taxpayer dollars, at least those contributing to large tax increases, should be focused on “essential services” and that private fund raising is a more appropriate fund raising mechanism for projects such as the Grist Mill Pond Dam, the Town Clock, Community Centers and so on.