TUPPER LAKE - The town board here is preparing to seek bidders to buy Setting Pole Dam on the Raquette River.
Town Supervisor Roger Amell explained Thursday that the decision came after Dennis Ryan, vice president of ECOsponsible Inc., proposed a plan during Monday's meeting to replace the existing structure with a new hydroelectric dam. The Buffalo-based company has several other dams in operation in Western New York.
The minimum bid for the 7-acre parcel will be $400,000. The parcel, which was assessed at $436,000 last year, is currently tax-exempt. The request for bids could be issued as early as Monday.
The Setting Pole Dam is seen during the height of spring flooding on May 1, 2011.
(Photo — Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department)
"There's really no benefit to us keeping it," Amell said. "I'd rather we get on the tax rolls, create a few more jobs out of it and get some green power out of it."
At the meeting, Ryan told the board he thinks the dam could draw one megawatt of power, enough to supply 300 homes. Amell said there are other benefits to the project, including up-to-date technology and the removal of the town's liability for the structure.
If ECOsponsible builds the dam, it would be controlled electronically and have a system to monitor the water level.
"It's going to have a barometer on it, so if a big storm is coming it'll send an alert down to the master-panel box, and the person down there can open the dam before the storm happens using a computer," Amell said. "If an emergency happens, we can react much faster."
Amell also said the Setting Pole Dam has stress cracks along its surface, which might indicate a bigger problem. By replacing the dam, the town would be absolved of any associated liability.
"The problem is, until you have an engineer core-drill it, you don't know how deep those cracks go," Amell said. "It could cost $25,000 just to get an engineer in there to tell you what needs to be done on it."
Amell added that repairing the current dam could easily cost up to $1 million.
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.