A.D. Makepeace disputes Town of Wareham’s lawsuit regarding Parker Mills Dam, Selectmen respond

Aug 09, 2018

The following is a response from the A.D. Makepeace Co. regarding the Town of Wareham’s decision to file a lawsuit to determine ownership of the Parker Mills Dam. The Board of Selectmen’s response is below.

To the Editor:

We were surprised and dismayed to read in the local newspapers that the Town of Wareham has decided to file suit against the A.D. Makepeace Company.

We have spoken to the Town and its counsel on numerous occasions regarding this ownership dispute. They have been advised on more than one occasion that our review of the facts shows that the dam is owned by the Town. We agree that this issue must be resolved, and to that end, we had suggested that we enter into a mutually-acceptable form of expedited mediation or arbitration to quickly come to resolution. We thought the Town agreed with this approach. Mediation would be far less costly to the Town than a lawsuit would be, and we find it surprising that amid school closings and talk of debt exclusions, the Town would select a more expensive vehicle.

Selectman Peter Teitelbaum was quoted as saying that he does not expect the lawsuit to affect the “fairly amicable relationship” between the A.D. Makepeace Company and the Town. We’re not aware of the relationship being anything other than entirely amicable to this point. Perhaps as an attorney, Mr. Teitelbaum has a different perception of lawsuits, but most of us view them as contentious. The genuinely amicable solution would have been to work together with an independent third party to determine ownership through expedited mediation.

We concur that this matter needs to be resolved. We thoroughly disagree with the idea that a costly and protracted lawsuit could somehow be the best approach.


Linda Burke

Vice President of Marketing & Communications,

A.D. Makepeace Co.

Selectmen's response

To the Editor:

The litigation is purely a business decision to ascertain who should bear the likely seven figure cost to repair to the Parker Mills dam. Makepeace has summarily claimed that it has no responsibility. The case involves ownership issues. The Town long ago amicably provided Makepeace with a copy of an expert title report which shows that Makepeace bears the primary responsibility for repair.

In exchange, Makepeace repeatedly promised to give the Town a copy of its title report supporting its position, but none has ever been provided. It is hoped that one will be forthcoming now that the Town has been compelled to take this regrettable step. Of course all doors will remain open to discussion when Makepeace can document the basis for its denial and share that documentation with the Town.

Richard Bowen, Esq.

Town Counsel

Comments (24)
Posted by: yourmonkeysuncle | Aug 10, 2018 06:43

Looking for some municipal leadership and positive decision making ; if that's possible. Apparently it's best to just wait for a catastrophic dam failure resulting in huge losses and a big bunch of yet more law suits at the expense of the tax payers. Knock off the sabre rattling and solve this problem !



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Aug 10, 2018 07:01

Nice, concise response from Town Counsel. This issue has dragged on and on for years. Time to move forward and settle the issue before there is a life threatening breach of the dam. Time to do the necessary repairs and open a bridge to better and more profitable use of the nail factory building. As for the legal costs that AD Makepeace is referencing...no doubt once the issue is settled in court and the bridge repairs are completed, the financial benefit of realized income from a more desirable nail factory site will quickly offset the attorney fees.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 10, 2018 11:42

There's always two sides to every story.  In any event, it looks like the lawsuit will motivate this matter.


There are at least two similar situations in town right now.  Smaller scale, but same. One is the bridge in Myles Standish near the ranger station.  It failed 20+ years ago when it gave way and the older couple plunged into the icy water.  They were saved, thank God.  Its been closed eversince. I think the State, the towns, and Makepiece are still denying ownership.  It's a real inconvenience if you want to get to any of the south/southeast places like Fearing, Charge, Cachalot, or Squanto.


The other is new.  Agawam road (off Glen Charlie at Maple Park) has been closed  with a big gate since the winter.  Originally I thought it to be a tactic to keep bad apples out.  There's a vast playground out there with so many good positive things to do such as: Fishing, mountain biking, hiking, responsible ATV riding, and many more.   Yet it also used to get it's fair share of reckless riders, litter, fire, and other nonsense.  I learned that a culvert that feeds bogs with water from Glen Charlie had been washed out over the winter.  The cranberry company denies ownership.  Now its just another similar situation.  It's got a temporary plate over it and it's just sitting there with nobody taking responsibility.

Posted by: bob | Aug 10, 2018 12:36

Why in hell is the town holding events on this site,since the dam is suppose to be structure unsafe,god forbid if this breaches and there is a event going on...

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 10, 2018 12:51

Yea Bob, I've thought that same thought.  It's the purple gorilla in the room.  Maybe the dam isn't in as bad shape as they say?Maybe they've surveyed the elevations and calculated that the floodwater may not affect events in the parking lot.  It may just all rush downstream and take out the low houses and possibly downtown?  Unless it happens at high tide. Who knows?  Maybe they're just playing the odds???

Posted by: Mike | Aug 11, 2018 09:03

Because of the public rights to the agawam roed it might be illegal to close the road without providing another access

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 11, 2018 10:41

Mike- Agawam Road is a town road that needs to be open.  The other end is still open way far up North in Plymouth.  That does Wareham no good at all.  The gate has a series of pad locks in it's chain.  Each authorized entity has their own lock.  They have the access thing covered.  But it's still quite a bummer for the many responsible people that enjoyed it out there.

Posted by: Uptohere | Aug 11, 2018 16:18

SO if the dam let go there would be a big issue with the Tremont property along with some others. I could swear someone posted it wouldn't effect it.  Either I miss understood or .....complete at your discretion

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Aug 11, 2018 19:40

The Parker Mills Pond Dam was classified as a High Hazard Potential Dam by the Office of Dam Safety at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which means its failure would likely impact loss of life and damage to homes and commercial facilities.

The dam, which supplies water to the area cranberry industry, is located across from the Tremont Nail Factory. The Elm Street bridge, which was indefinitely closed on June 20, is part of the dam.

In its August 2014 report, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said, “The Parker Mills Dam faces a multitude of repairs in order to maintain public safety.” It said a recent inspection of the dam found the dam in poor condition with, “displaces and unstable upstream wall sections, sinkholes and leakage . . . and deterioration of concrete,” as just some of the problems.”


Above quote from Oct. 22, 2014 Wareham Week article by Bill Whelan, titled, “Dam in Dire Need of Repairs”




Posted by: yourmonkeysuncle | Aug 12, 2018 07:12

Andrea, good info and thanks for this. It's become apparent that Makepeace or the Town of Wareham have little interest in dealing with this issue. It's not the towns responsibility to provide water to the Cranberry industry. Local growers don't seem to want to make a case either. Maybe it's time to restore the entire issue back to nature and let it flow where it's gotta go.


Posted by: bob | Aug 12, 2018 07:39

Yes Andrea,I recall that article,thanks...But it sure would be one hell lawsuit to the town, if god forbid something happen while there are having there social events here....As old timers say ..HORSE BEFORE THE CARRIAGE....

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Aug 12, 2018 08:01

This issue has been going on for a long time and thankfully now it will be resolved. Its odd and I think the first time I have seen rich Bowen comment in public "officially" on a blog no less, on behalf of the Board. Knowing Rich as well as I do, the Town must have a pretty good case. I just hope that this can be done amicably, lawsuits often will turn ugly and have long term repercussions. To bad this could have not been settled out of court. Both parties have helped each other tremendously over their history and I hope this does not effect that relationship long term.

Posted by: sadie | Aug 12, 2018 08:47

Why not remove the dam. Wasn't it on a list of dams that someone ( I forgot which agency) wanted removed so the water would be returned to it's natural flow. I think there were 2 dams they wanted removed.

Posted by: cranky pants | Aug 12, 2018 10:40

Removing the dam will create dryer land upstream... Perfect for building another development.

Win win.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 12, 2018 11:15

Can't remove.  The upseream fresh water pond has been developed based on it's water level determined by the dam.  Then there's another dam upstream of that pond.  It's a cascading issue.  There are many dams in our North to South flowing rivers and ponds.  Agawam, Glen Charlie is entirely created by a dam, etc.  Dams cannot be removed without major impact.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Aug 12, 2018 17:10

It can be removed, there will be a river with meadows off both sides. Dams upstream still allow water thru so whatever that is will be the river. The water going over the dam now is what it would be. The land gained could go to the cemetery to increase plots and we could stop busting land with CPA money. The herring would love it.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Aug 12, 2018 20:00

Wow Sphere, all that and it sounds picturesque too!

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 12, 2018 20:08

In theory I guess that's what would happen.  But Parker Mills Pond has waterfront property.  Residences with beautiful pondfront.  How can that just be taken away?  Obviously another  complicated situation.  I'd be furious if I owned a pondfront home  that became meadowfront.

Theres a lot more to it.  Right now Parker Mills Pond is fresh water on one side of the dam and the Tremont Nail side is tidal salt water.  Removing the dam will create a  tidal brackish environment that will change everything.  I don't think it will work nor be allowed by the DEP.

Posted by: totellthetruth | Aug 12, 2018 20:10

Within the last 5 yrs. Federal and State permits were applied for and I believe issued for the demolition of the Dam{s}in Red Brook. That entire property is controlled by the State DCR.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Aug 13, 2018 00:11

I think we call those fresh water/salt water rivers estuaries.  It worked for tens of thousands of years before the Parker Mills Dam, and it'll work if the dam is removed.

Posted by: Steve Holmes | Aug 13, 2018 07:29

I could be mistaken, but we did get some money and repairs done to the dam off Main St, where the old park use to be. That is a much larger structure.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Aug 13, 2018 07:37

It does Andrea, Trails could be made with picnic areas along the river for public access. The Buzzards Bay Coalition could buy the Nail Factory and have an Estuary Center or Herring hatchery there. Basins could be cut for a reflective pool,  frog pond or small fishing hole.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Aug 20, 2018 18:30

Litigating this in the court of public opinion is either shrewd or foolish. Why did the Town by Tremont without knowing the answer? "Few things have such a fundamental impact on a river as a dam or culvert. River restoration brings rivers back to life by removing dams, replacing culverts, and restoring floodplains." https://www.americanrivers.org/threats-solutions/restoring-damaged-rivers/

Posted by: WWreader | Aug 21, 2018 08:42

Court of public opinion? Seems to me like the town is willing to take this to an actual court at significant cost to the taxpayers when the arbitration or mediation requested by Makepeace would have produced the requested report it asked of the company and, no doubt, provided a resolution agreed upon by both parties at far less cost to us. Bowen calls the lawsuit a "regrettable step."  Why regret a costly lawsuit when this could be resolved without regret and with cooperation with the single company that has brought the bulk of economic development to our town? Go figure.

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