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“The dams that we remove serve no active purpose, and are basically just sitting there as a liability and a major obstacle to restoring ecological integrity in rivers,” Purinton said.
The total cost of removing the Balmoral and Marland Place dams, slated to occur in 2014, is estimated between $750,000 and $1 million, all of which will be paid with a combination of federal and state funds, donations, and contributions from the owners, said Thomas Ardito, director of the Center for Ecosystem Restoration, the Rhode Island-based nonprofit that received the Massachusetts Environmental Trust grant in partnership with the town of Andover.
The Ballardvale dam, which is located in the historically significant neighborhood of the same name, was originally part of the town’s removal plan, but was dropped after one of its two owners — the Shawsheen River Office Condominium Association — opposed its removal.
Owners of the Shawsheen Rubber Co., operating on the other side of the dam, favor its removal.
“It’s the centerpiece of the neighborhood,” said Joel Rosen, whose law office is in the converted mill condominium building. “I have a waterfall right outside the window and it’s wonderful, and the sound it produces is this great white noise.”
But there is a chance the Ballardvale Dam will not be completely off the table if restoration goals are achieved down the road with the removal of the Balmoral and Marland Place dams.
“The two downstream dams are both socially and technically viable, but the third one [Ballardvale], there wasn’t a lot of support for it,” Ardito said. “I won’t go as far as saying, ‘Dam removal at Ballardvale,’ but I will say our organization is interested in restoring the entire Shawsheen River.”