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Home arrowNews arrowJanuary 29, 2013

ACHP to Gather Public Comment, Issue Recommendations on Pawtucket Dam Project

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is preparing comments to present to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding proposed alterations to the historic Pawtucket Dam on the Merrimack River at Lowell, Massachusetts.

To inform the ACHP’s efforts, it will hold a public meeting on February 5, 2013 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Special Events Center, Lowell National Historical Park, Boott Mills, Second Floor, 115 John Street, Lowell, MA 01852. Directions: Enter the Boott Mills Courtyard via John Street, turn right and walk past the Museum Entrance to go to the end of the courtyard to the signed “Business Entrance.”

As a key part of this process, ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, has created a five-member panel to oversee development of recommendations. The panel members will review the case and consider public comment before providing ACHP final comments to FERC no later than February 22, 2013.

The action comes in the wake of FERC’s January 8 notification that the agency would terminate the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act. That provision requires federal agencies to consider the impacts of undertakings they carry out, fund, or license on properties listed, or eligible for listing, on the National Register of Historic Places. FERC’s decision was made because it determined that consulting parties were unlikely to reach agreement on how to address adverse effects to Pawtucket Dam. The ACHP has 45 calendar days to provide its final comments on historic preservation and Section 106 issues when termination of consultation occurs in a Section 106 case.

The project at issue was Boott Hydropower, Inc.’s plan to replace a historic dam structural feature with a contemporary treatment that uses a crest gage with inflatable bladders to regulate high-water flow at Pawtucket Dam in the Merrimack River. The Pawtucket Dam is located within the Lowell Locks and Canals Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. While FERC found that approval of the license amendment permitting the alterations would pose an adverse affect to the historic property, parties involved in the consultation were unable to reach agreement on how to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the impacts. In such relatively rare circumstances, the agency carrying out the Section 106 consultation can terminate the process. The ACHP is then charged with providing final comments on the issues relating to historic preservation to the agency in charge of making the final decision, in this case FERC.

For more information and details including how to register for the meeting or submit written comments to the ACHP, go to  Submit written comments regarding how the proposal impacts historic places to or via facsimile to 202-606-5072.

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