Acton will be able to advance plans to remove the River Street Dam and restore the brook that runs beneath it with the help of a new $112,500 state grant.
The funding and $37,5000 in town matching funds will enable Acton to complete engineering plans and begin permitting for removing the dam and upgrading that section of Fort Pond Brook, according to Matthew Selby, the town’s land use and economic development director.
The combined funds will also pay for demolishing part of a cinder-block building on the 7.26-acre former industrial site.
Acton plans to seek future grants to undertake the dam removal and brook restoration, and to complete demolition of the building, with the intention of eventually creating a municipal park on the property.
The dam was built to serve a woolen mill that operated at the site starting in the late 19th century. The mill burned down in 1951, but the site remained in industrial use and the existing building was erected in 1957.
In 1960, the site was purchased by Lazaro Paving, which used it for the company’s operations and later leased portions of it to contractors, according to Selby. In 2017, the town acquired the property from Lazaro, now based in Shirley.
Though the dam is inactive, Selby said it still impounds water during wet periods, which can cause downstream flooding. Removing the dam will help restore the brook’s natural water flow.
The brook restoration will include widening the waterway and creating stream features to promote fish habitat. The grant was awarded through a state program that helps municipalities address climate change impacts, in this case the risk of flooding resulting from more frequent storms.John Laidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.