Crews have been in Washburn for about a week and a half working on a major project in town – the removal of the mill pond dam and berm.
“This is the first part of it…we’ve gotta wait a year for the spring flush to see just where the brook is gonna go,” said councilor and rotarian Mike Umphrey.
He says the project is on schedule. Taking out the berm and dam will open up 19-20 miles of free flowing water for both Atlantic salmon and brook trout – which is the way it used to be back in the 1800s. Most folks we talked to Monday are excited about the change.
“Fishing..I mean, myself as a sportsman it’s just not like it used to be..if this is something that could be a positive turn for it then ya know, its gonna be a good thing,” said Mike Gallagher.
Frederick Moore of Washburn said, “I look forward to having a lot more people there.”
“I think its good for the fish they wanna be up in the cold water and small streams going into the river is what makes the cold water,” said Robert Thibodeau of Presque Isle.
And some have their concerns.
“The whole thing is going to be kind of an inconvenience, now you have to go around down the main hill if you want to get anywhere towards the other side of town now,” said resident Jed Cone.
To that point, Umphrey says eventually they’re hoping to build a multipurpose bridge. One man who didn’t want to go on camera said he wishes they’d make it into a swimming area again. Umphrey says the goal is to make it something like Riverside Park in Presque Isle.
“The history of here was people came from everywhere to swim in the mill pond..of course we can’t do that anymore..but maybe we can do the second best,” said Umphrey.
Patricia Laferriere of Washburn says, “if you let your dog walk into the pond, nothing but muck was coming up..and all that kinda thing so I think this is gonna be great for the whole environment.”
Umphrey expects the demolition to take three more weeks weather dependent, and he says the project in its entirety will take about three years.