Help us fund local COVID-19 reporting in our community

Wilton’s New Reservoir may have future as recreation area

  • The New Reservoir in Wilton will likely be turned into a recreation area, after residents threw their support behind the idea at Town Meeting. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The New Reservoir in Wilton will likely be turned into a recreation area, after residents threw their support behind the idea at Town Meeting. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The New Reservoir in Wilton will likely be turned into a recreation area, after residents threw their support behind the idea at Town Meeting. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/23/2017 6:22:06 AM

Signs posted at the gap in the fence surrounding the fence around the New Reservoir make it clear: No swimming. No animals. Some of them posted along the fence line make the reason clear: it’s a public water supply.

Or, at least it was. 

The New Reservoir hasn’t been used for that purpose since the 1980s. Now, the town used water drawn from three drilled wells to provide town water. And since the New Reservoir was used for drinking water, the standards for using surface water for a town supply has changed, and if the town ever did want to use it for that purpose again, it would have to construct a new water treatment facility – that would cost upwards of $1 million.

It’s not likely, said Select Board Chair Kermit Williams in an interview Wednesday.

But while the New Reservoir isn’t likely to serve as a water supply anytime soon, it could serve as a recreation area. That was a notion overwhelmingly supported in an unofficial poll taken at Town Meeting, even though doing so would require fixing the reservoir dam, which comes with a $100,000 price tag to fix the ongoing issue of water weeping from the dam. But when the other options were draining the reservoir partially or totally, residents were quick to back a plan that made the reservoir open for public use.

In a lot of ways, said Williams, it would just be legalizing what’s already happening in that area.

“Theoretically, there’s not supposed to be anyone using it,” said Williams. “But no one has enforced that rule in many years. I know people fish there, and I certainly know people boat there.”

The Select Board has yet to discuss the issue in the wake of the Town Meeting vote, said Williams, but logistically, the board would be considering several issues moving forward.

Williams said he believes a state statute that protects private landowners from liability if they make their property freely available for recreation would also cover the town, if they do not charge for the use of the reservoir, but the town will be discussing that issue with its insurance company before moving forward. To make the spot usable, the town will likely remove the chain-link fence that surrounds it, and possibly put in some parking. Currently, the reservoir is accessed by Sand Hill Road, a narrow dirt road that is not maintained in the winter, and might become hazardous if multiple cars were parked on the shoulder.

“If we’re going to assume that this is something that would be a popular place, and we would hope that if we’re going to put the money into it, it would be, we may have to provide some amount of parking,” said Williams. 

But first, said Williams, the town will likely request an updated cost on fixing the dam — the number it has is several years old — and decide whether it wants to open the reservoir for recreation before next year’s Town Meeting, when the board will likely be requesting funds for the dam repairs or any other improvements to the area. 




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2019 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy