The town of Hudson has taken out a $750,000 loan to repair the cracked dam in its beloved Pine Lake, but some residents say the size of the loan is overblown.
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“Don’t be frightened off by this $750,000,” resident Jennifer Butler told CBC Daybreak on Wednesday morning.
Mayor Ed Prevost said that while it’s true the repairs to the broken dam could cost significantly less than three-quarters of a million dollars, council wanted to make sure it would have enough money to take care of any and all additional costs that may crop up.
“Basically, we don’t want to go back to the till two or three or four times. We don’t know what this is going to cost. It will depend on the ultimate tenders for the specs and plans, as well as the actual contractual work. If the end amount is $100,000 or less, we’ll be happiest people on the world,” Prevost told Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.
'I think someone has to get out there and sharpen their pencil and use their calculator to figure out what $750,000 really translates into for everyone who lives in Hudson.' - Jennifer Butler, Hudson resident
Hudson’s town council passed a loan bylaw for the amount on Monday.
Prevost estimated that if the town were to spend the entire $750,000, it could result in tax increases of up to $100 per household per year for the people of Hudson.
Butler said town council runs the risk of scaring residents into signing a registry refusing the loan bylaw.
“That's a big fear for us, which is why we really want everyone to be informed. I think someone has to get out there and sharpen their pencil and use their calculator to figure out what $750,000 really translates into for everyone who lives in Hudson,” Butler said.
“It’s not $100 per year per household. That’s a ridiculous figure,” she continued. Her estimations are more like $3 a year per home.
Fix dam now, avoid problems later
Butler said a group of residents living near Pine Lake contacted an engineer in Lac-Mégantic who is an expert in dam building. She said he proposed a solution involving a dam made of natural stone that would cost a tenth of the amount of the loan.
Both she and Prevost said repairing the dam isn't in question. It's only a matter of when. Prevost said the repairs are likely to take place in the spring.
Butler said the repairs aren’t just for the benefit of the residents of the Pine Lake area.
“I think the residents of Hudson need to know that leaving it as is isn’t really an option. That’s not just something selfish because I have a lake-view property. Right now, if you were to remove the dam structure, the water is going to free-flow downstream and has the potential of eroding all of the properties that are on the stream that leads to the Lake of Two Mountains,” she said. And that, she added, would be much more expensive to fix than repairing the dam now.