Georgiaville Pond likely to stay low into summer

Georgiaville Pond likely to stay low into summer

SMITHFIELD - The water level at Georgiaville Pond, a contentious issue over the past year, will apparently remain low longer than anticipated, since the contractor doing dam repairs there is seeking a 60-day extension to complete the work because of harsh weather conditions during the winter.

The Town Council will take up the request from J. H. Lynch & Sons at its April 1 meeting, according to Town Manager Dennis Finlay.

The pond, a major recreational resource and home to the town beach, is normally lowered up to four feet each winter to expose invasive weeds to killing frost, a practice that had produced disagreements among pondside residents.

This year, the 90-acre pond was drawn down much further, to about half its usual surface area, to accommodate repair work under a $420,000 contract calling for "substantial" completion by May 1, according to Town Engineer Kevin Cleary.

The proposed delay brought criticism at the council's March 18 meeting from Donald Burns, chairman of the town's Conservation Commission, who said he was speaking not on behalf of the commission, but as a pond area resident. He said he understands that winter conditions may have contributed to a delay, but "not 60 days worth."

Asserting that he has seen no one working there even on good-weather days, Burns told the council, "I hope you take a good hard look at things."

The repair project includes replacement of antiquated spillway mechanisms that make it difficult to control the depth of the man-made pond whose outlet is on the Woonasquatucket River.

At times, the annual drawdowns have allowed the pond level to drop more than the four-foot maximum permitted by the State Department of Environmental Management, according to Cleary.

Conflicting opinion on the routine drawdowns surfaced last year among pond area residents.

Some asserted that exposure to frost is the most economical way to kill unwanted plants that are choking the waterway, while others said the drawdowns continue too long, create ugly mudholes, and curtail winter recreation.

During one discussion, Council President Alberto LaGreca Jr. said he hoped a management plan could be developed to address such issues that might also apply to other ponds in town.

When the dam repair contract was awarded in November, engineer Cleary said Lynch's bid represented considerable savings over the original estimate of $525,000 and would allow construction of an optional $55,000 gatehouse at the dam.

He said the contractor on March 5 asked for an extension of the substantial completion date to July 2.

Cleary said that under that timeline, refilling of the pond would begin about June 1 and would take about a week, although that could vary with weather conditions.

He said the contractor lost virtually all of February and the first two weeks of this month because of the severe winter.

The contract includes a penalty of $1,200 a day for lateness of substantial completion, with actual assessment of the fine at the discretion of the Town Council, Cleary said.

Comments

Typical, Seems to me everything is considered a scam? Must be a Rhode Island thing? Oh wait could it be a Union scam! A 60 day extension doesn't mean it will take another 60 days but taking into consideration the harsh winter we have experienced, it definetley doesn't seem unreasonable! Or is the town just that desperate to reap the $1200.00 a day penalty from the contractor??