The Friends of the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir and Chesterfield Road Dam Want Your Help

The Friends of the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir and Chesterfield Road Dam are circulating this appeal for help:

Dear Friends,

Please help save an important part of our community.

The Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir and the Dam located on Chesterfield Road in Florence are slated for removal. This nearly 130-year old dam may be removed as early as the SUMMER of 2010 if we don’t raise the awareness and the dollars needed to save it. The dam has been neglected for decades and now the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety has required the City of Northampton repair or remove the dam out of safety concerns. The course of action the City has opted for is to remove the dam and drain the reservoir.

We cannot let that happen!

The Friends of the Upper Robert’s Meadow Reservoir and Chesterfield Road Dam have applied to the CPA and are asking for $100,000 in this round to start us on our way toward raising the $400,000+ that the Board of Public Works is asking us to find in order to repair the dam instead of the City removing it. On Wed. Nov. 4th at 7pm in the City Hall Council room, the Community Preservation Committee (CPA) will be accepting public comments about this round of CPA funds. The Friends will be attending this meeting to explain the need for grant funds in order to save the dam, but we need as many voices there as possible.

What we need is a show of force that will show that citizens believe that the dam is worth saving for its historical and aesthetic value. It is a beautiful block-faced dam built in 1883 to create a reservoir to supply the city with drinking water and it has been allowed to fall into disrepair. The 4-6 acre Reservoir is no longer used as back-up water supply, however, the Reservoir has become home to a wide variety of animals (river otter and beaver), birds (blue heron, kingfisher, double-crested cormorant, and merganser ducks), and is of particular importance for amphibians and other creatures. Neighboring land owners (including my family) have placed their property into conservation restrictions to protect the watershed and to help connect an important wildlife corridor, and a group has formed that is committed to seeing the Reservoir protected.

CPA monies are paid for out of your city real estate taxes, so we all have a stake in how it is spent. This is what we need you to do:

  1. We need people to attend this meeting to let the CPC see that this is important to the citizenry of Northampton and if you wish, to state a reason for saving this dam.

  2. Before November 3rd, send a letter or e-mail to the CPC in support of our application for funds.
         Fran Volkman, Chair:
         Tom Parent, Vice Chair:

  3. If this is an issue that you care about, forward this to your friends and family, in particular those who live in Northampton, Florence or Leeds. It will take many voices to save the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir and the Dam located on Chesterfield Road.

  4. Join us. We welcome your ideas and expertise.
Thank you,

The Friends of the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir and Chesterfield Road Dam

See also:

Valley Advocate: “Northampton’s Hidden Reservoir” (9/3/09)
Neighbors found out about the dam removal project by accident. “There were guys in hard hats down by the dam about a year ago,” said Dee Boyle-Clapp, who lives with her husband John Clapp in a farmstead bed-and-breakfast near the scenic reservoir. “Our neighbor Wayne Thibault went across the street and asked them what they were doing, and they said that the dam was going to be taken down. None of the abutters or neighbors had been informed.”

Video: Conservation Commission Meeting of 9/10/09; Kohl Condos Approved; Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir 
Following the discussion of the Kohl proposal, the commission heard a “request by John Clapp for a support letter for a Community Preservation Act application for funds to restore the Upper Roberts Meadow Dam in Leeds” (1:29:15-2:07:11 on the video). Here is a picture of the proponents’ presentation board:

Video: Board of Public Works Meeting of 7/29/09; Roberts Meadow Upper Reservoir Dam; Landfill Alternatives
The Department of Public Works is considering the dam’s removal (see PDF of 2009 proposal). Some neighbors and citizens would prefer to preserve it and the character of its immediate surroundings.