Ledyard — The State Bonding Commission is expected to approve $3 million in public funding Thursday for projects here, including money to repair three colonial-era dams on Long Pond and Bush Pond.
Then the city got the news late last week when Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and Mayor Fred Allyn III said the Bonds Commission should approve funds for bridge and dam upgrades, including upgrading pump stations, adding a storage reservoir and extending an emergency connection to Ledyard.
Conservation group Lantern Hill Valley Association and the McKee Farm Trust have been working to secure funding for the estimated one million dollars needed to repair the three dams they own. The organizations didn’t have the money to do the work.
“I’m thrilled. We’ve been pushing this for 10 long years,” LHVA member Betsy Graham said Sunday. “It benefits the region while.”
Graham pointed out that LHVA has been maintaining, inspecting and paying taxes on dams for 50 years.
“Senator Osten recognized that and the value they bring to the region,” she said.
Graham said the funding will ensure dams, bridges and adjacent roads remain intact during major storms to come.
“It’s a great relief that future generations don’t have to worry about these things,” she said.
Last month, David Keehn, president of the LHVA, said repairing the dam was important from a safety, recreation and environmental perspective. He added that if the dams failed, the water could endanger properties downstream.
LHVA is also working with the environmental group Save the Sound to install a fish pass through the Long Pond Dam which will connect Whitford Brook to Long Pond. This will allow anadromous fish, like river herring, which spend their lives in salt and fresh water, to return to the pond for the first time in 350 years to lay their eggs.
Graham said the plan is to coordinate the design and construction of the dams and the fishway.
Announcing the likely funding, Osten said: “Sometimes you get a bond from the state for a project that seems simple at first glance, like fixing dams and bridges, but really has other bigger consequences. , and I think that’s the case here.”
“Long Pond and the Whitford Brook are connected to the Mystic River and the Long Island Sound, and so they are connected to all the fish that live in the sound. It would be great if, in addition to protecting the integrity of some ancient dams and private property downstream, we could give a boost to the fish that have historically spawned in Ledyard’s freshwater ponds. I hope that’s what these public funds will ultimately help accomplish,” said she declared.
Ledyard Mayor Fred Allyn III added that he appreciates Osten’s support of “this critical investment in Ledyard’s infrastructure.”
“These are exactly the kinds of long-term investments that government bonds should pay for,” he said. “I really appreciate all the work she’s done for us here in Eastern Connecticut,” he said.