Funding to replace a culvert and dam and repair the bridge at Stevens Brook Pond on Gloucester Hill Road will be decided at a special election. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

New Gloucester residents will decide April 13 whether to approve spending $785,000 to repair the Stevens Brook Pond dam, culvert and bridge, including a $450,000 bond to fund the project.

The special election ballot also includes a question on appropriating $125,000 from the transfer station reserve account to purchase a loader. Polling will take place at the New Gloucester Meetinghouse at 389 Intervale Road from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The passage of water from Stevens Brook Pond is controlled by a dam and a box culvert, shown here, that allows fish to access a stream on the other side of Gloucester Hill Road. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

The five-year bond for the project at Stevens Brook Pond will total approximately $459,000 with interest payments. The remainder of the funding would come from reserve accounts and the town’s undesignated fund balance.

Stevens Brook Pond, located on the northwest side of Gloucester Hill Road across from the Lower Gloucester Cemetery has been designated a “Special Opportunity Water” by the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which stocks it for fishing. The pond also is used source for the fire department to fill its tanks.

The pond is contained by a dam and includes a box culvert underneath a bridge that connects to a stream on the opposite side of the road.

Repairs on the box culvert, which is a concrete tunnel that allows water to pass under the road, have been on the town’s agenda since 2018, according to details provided on the town’s website.

The Stevens Brook bridge and box culvert as seen from the southeast side of Gloucester Hill Road, next to the Lower Gloucester Cemetery. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

Selectboard Vice Chairperson Linda Chase said Tuesday that even though it was put out to bid in fall 2019, the project was delayed because the estimates came in far over budget. It was left off the 2020 Town Meeting warrant after the meeting was delayed until July due to COVID-19, and it was past the deadline to order a new culvert for the 2020 construction season.

“The box culvert is failing, causing some structural problems with the bridge,” Chase said. “The project was kind of necessitated by the box culvert failure and some damage to the bridge that we need to take care of.”

If the warrant does not pass, Selectman Peter Bragdon said the road could potentially be shut down at that location and the fire department’s access to it may be limited.

The land where Stevens Brook is located is privately owned, Chase said, but the town owns, repairs and maintains the culvert and the dam since it crosses a local right-of-way. There is also an easement on the land that gives the town access to the pond that has been in effect since 1981.

“We have been working on this since at least 2017. I personally feel that we have not done a great job on educating the townspeople on the project,” Bragdon said.

Funds to build the dam and flood what is now the pond were approved by New Gloucester voters at the 1941 Town Meeting.

The pond is one of 20 Special Opportunity Water sites in the Lakes Region; there are 52 in the state. the designation means it is open to those 16 years old and younger and/or with an eligible complimentary fishing license.

Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife stocked Stevens Brook in New Gloucester and Bridgton six times last year with 2,370 brook trout, according to IF&W’s 2020 report.

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