The other night I attended a town meeting to discuss the matters of saving the dam and rebuilding the fish ladder in Bristol Mills (Maine). This little hot spot is literally 30 seconds away from my home, btw.
The Mills primarily serves the following three things:
We'll call Saving the Dam, "Option A".
The alternative to Option A, is of course, Option B; drain the dam, reroute the fish, and give the marsh a significant makeover.
Both options require a load of cash. Both options demad a ton of man hours. They both provide a passage for alewives, water for the fire department, and a place to swim. And I won't lie, Option A presumably could run a bit higher on the financial charts, but I believe this is when we need to define the word "value'.
When you look up the word 'value', this is what you get...
Ok. Now that we've defined "value", let's talk a little bit about Bristol.
Bristol has been a fishing community since about 1625, so we understand, need, and love our fish. And because of the dependency of these scaley critters, it behooves us to take good care of our little peninsula, including the dam. For generations we have done our best to be good stewards for alewives. And like any other technology we humans have created, the earlier stuff kinda lacked in sophistication and efficiency. Our dam is no exception. But thanks to science, evolution, testing, and all the other stuff that has seriously improved things such as phones, medicine, and automobiles (I mean, could you imagine if we still had to hand-crank our cars? No thanks.), we can upgrade the dam and get those lil' fishes swimming safely and efficiently.
You may have noticed the 6th word in that last paragraph was community. I want to talk about that a little bit now.
I'm not sure the last time you checked your calendar, but when I did, it said it was 2018. At the medium-ripe age of 40, I can hardly believe that such a futuristic date has come to be. Can you remember all the Y2K-End-Of-The-World craziness eighteen years ago? What the heck? Any way, I can't help but think that though this futuristic time has brought us incredible technologies that are literally improving and saving lives, I feel like it has also watered down our sense of community, especially for our kids.
I used to own the little diner that sits just past the dam. One of my fondest memories of that place was when I got to listen to the "old timers" talk about the "good ol' days". There were dances at the grange, roller skating at BATMA, drag races along John Hall stretch, and swimming at the dam. With the exception of our beloved swimming hole, all of these activites have gone extinct and that breaks my heart. Well, maybe I'm not so sad about the drag racing, but you get where I'm going with this. Places to gather and have fun are diminishing. And though this is just a hunch, I guessing that the more gathering places there are, the stronger the community is. We're able to interact with one another in real time and real space. It's weird that this is an issue at all, but in our modern times, sadly, it is.
Now, you might be asking, can't they just swim at the Option B location? I'm going to answer your presumed question with a question: Do you like swimming in shallower water filled with reeds and leeches? I'm guessing, no. Plus, it's harder for parents to keep an eye on their kids since the layout is kinda weird at the Option B location (plus I think there's probably more ticks over there, too).
Lastly, let's talk briefly about this fire truck filling situation. The fire chief himself made several points as to why relocating the water source would be a bad decision. I have nothing to say about this because he's the pro in this department and if the pro says it's a bad idea, that's good enough for me.
ALRIGHT! Back to value.
I think the dam has importance, worth, and usefulness on multiple levels. It's important for our community's ecosystem, safety, and sense of connectedness. Does this come at the cost of significant time and effort. Of course it does. But anything worth preserving does, and personally I think Bristol deserves it.
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