HOLDERNESS – The $160,000 remediation payment from Groton Wind and its parent company, Iberdrola Renewables, has been made to the state so it can be used for improvements at the recreation areas at Livermore Falls.
Officials and volunteers in the three towns with land abutting the falls on the Pemigewasset River were promised the money from Iberdrola as part of a negotiated settlement between the state Attorney General’s Office, the state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) and Groton Wind LLC in 2014.
The money represents the settlement of a dispute over Groton Wind’s re-siting of its operations and maintenance building during the plant’s construction in 2011. The state Attorney General’s Office had sought the money as counsel for the public in the matter.
The Livermore Falls area is a set of waterfalls, cliffs and beaches along the river below the old bridge in the towns of Campton, Plymouth and Holderness.
The Friends of the Pemi-Livermore Falls chapter has been working since 2013 to come up with plans to protect the falls area and make it safer and more pleasurable to use.
The area, owned by the state and administered by the Department of Resources and Economic Development, is framed by a historic “Pumpkin Seed” bridge, which was erected in 1886 and closed in 1959. The bridge is now too dangerous to cross, and the falls have been a source of problems for area safety officials. At least 10 people have died while swimming there in the past few decades, police said, and dozens more have been injured.
This year, at least three people were injured, one of them seriously, while swimming at the falls and climbing cliffs above. Authorities also have had to repeatedly remove a rope swing from the bridge, from which people would swing.
Iberdrola’s Art Sasse said the money has been paid.
“We have paid all settlement funds to the (counsel to the public),” saying that he is not sure of the “timing is for a transfer schedule” of the money to the falls area.
Pamela Monroe, administrator for the SEC, said Thursday the money has been transferred to DRED officials, who will oversee how it is spent with the help of the friends committee.
Former Holderness Town Administrator Walter Johnson, now a town administrator in Moultonborough but still a member of the friends committee, said Thursday he hadn’t heard that the money had been paid.
Improvements, including new signage and a new 60-space parking lot below the falls, will likely be made in the spring and next summer using the funds, he said.