Another Dam in the News – Prindle Lake Dam

Prindle Lake and dam in Charlton, Massachusetts was not only the topic of conversation and questions at this January’s COLAP conference but appeared in Saturday’s Worcester Telegram.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Legislation to help save lake
New law lets town acquire Prindle dam


CHARLTON — Special state legislation permitting the town to save Prindle Lake by acquiring and repairing its dam has been signed into law by Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

The new law authorizes the town to acquire dams within its boundaries, make improvements to the dams and assess betterments to fund repairs.

“The town of Charlton and the lakefront property owners looked to me to file a bill and I delivered a resolution to them as quickly as possible,” state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, said in an announcement Thursday.

The lake, manmade more than 100 years ago to power a mill on Cady Brook, is used recreationally by the public, including about 85 shore property owners.

When the dam failed an inspection in 2006, the state Office of Dam Safety ordered owner Santos Irrevocable Trust to repair or breach it by November 2009, or face a fine of up to $500 a day.

With an estimated cost of $325,000 for repair and $162,000 to breach, Santos Trust decided to breach, which would drain the lake down to a marsh.

Prindle Lake residents took the matter to the Board of Selectmen.

Mary Whitehouse Santos is one of three trustees of the roughly 500 acres that includes 30 percent of the lakefront and the dam. Fellow trustees are her ex-husband, John G. Santos, and a third party appointed by the court.

In a meeting attended by more than 100 residents last April, Ms. Whitehouse Santos said the trust wishes to forgo future cost and liability by dismantling the dam or conveying it to the town for $1.

Regarding the cost to repair, selectmen agreed to pursue special legislation to assess betterments to residents who benefit from the lake if Santos Trust would contribute the $162,000 that would have been spent to breach.

A loose agreement was struck.

Town Administrator Robin L. Craver said yesterday that the special legislation is a first step and no decisions have been made regarding the dam repair or betterments. A meeting will be set with Santos Trust regarding assuming ownership.

Prindle Lake Association Director Serafino DeFranco said yesterday, “We’re certainly pleased that the bill was enacted, as it was a required step in the process of repairing the dam. We will move forward with the dam owners and the town and try to reach some sort of agreement on how to proceed.”

Here’s an initial article from March 2009: