Officials Approve Steeppass Change

The Conservation Commission approved a change from timber piles to a concrete block footing on the future construction of an Alaskan steeppass fishway at the Hathaway Pond Dam in Rochester. The new fishway has been designed to help improve the flow of river herring upstream for spawning.

Tom Cook and Walter Hartley, who are both involved with the project, appeared before the Commission, and cited the discovery of underground rock at the site where the timber piles were to be driven. The Commission unanimously decided to approve the change.

“They discovered a basically concrete rubble and course material bottom,” Cook said. “It was 18 inches to two feet thick. It was completely unexpected, but it was there.”

Cook added that the investigation of the site where the rock was discovered took about six hours, and that no work has taken place since then. He said that the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries had already accepted the concrete block foundation.

April 5 was the original date set for the expected completion of the project, which the parties now hope to complete by April 15, the projected date of the herring run.

“I’m concerned by the herring coming up there now, but that’s for you guys to decide,” Commission member Kevin Cassidy said.

Cook and Hartley said that they hope to start the project Monday, April 8, but that it shouldn’t take more than three to five days to complete.

“The earlier we start, the more likely that we are going to get it done in time,” Hartley said.

Members of the Commission expressed their support for the project and for the changes to it.

“The important thing is to make sure you get something in there so the fish can get back to their spawning area, and I’m happy [with the new plan],” Commission member John Teal said.

“The initial design for the project did not work out,” Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon said. “We have what I consider to be a good team that’s working on this. The construction methodology that’s been set forward is acceptable to the people involved.”

The next meeting of the Conservation Commission has been set for April 16.

By Nick Walecka

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