Dam at Memorial Lake slated for demolition

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Construction for the dam began in 1910. Since then, its masonry structure has deteriorated.

THURMONT, Md. (WDVM) — The Frank Bentz Memorial Lake dam in Thurmont was constructed over 100 years a.go, and will soon be demolished.

Before John Kinnaird became mayor for the Town of Thurmont, he was among the dozens who have gathered at Frank Bentz Pond during the spring and summertime to catch trout.

“Every summer day there’s five or six kids fishing here, there’s parents fishing here. A lot of adults come here to fish; it’s just a great little spot,” Kinnaird said.

The dam at the end of the lake was created in 1910 to help generate power for the town.

The town has since turned to other power sources, and according to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the dam is now deemed unsafe.

They point to masonry along the structure that has deteriorated over the decades.

“It’s gotten to the point now where it’s in such dire condition,” Kinnaird added.

MDE notified the Department of Natural Resources, which owns the dam, and said if repairs aren’t made the dam could partially breach.

Plans now are to demolish the dam which would be a benefit for the fish that are stocked into these waters, and for the anglers who visit.

“It’s a man-made barrier, a physical barrier, for the trout that live downstream, from the downstream section connecting to the upstream trout population. Removing the dam will remove that barrier and they’ll be allowed free movement,” explained regional fisheries manager with the Department of Natural Resources, Michael Kashiwagi.

Plans for the demolition are still in the preliminary stage.

Kinnaird advises residents not to fear for a flood either before the dam is removed or after.

“If the dam fails, no one down stream is in any danger. There’s not enough water behind the dam to cause any real issues downstream,” Kinnaird said.

Officials say the demolition of the dam could begin in 2022.

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