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Oh, dam: Natick tries to figure out whether to remove decrepit but scenic dam on the Charles River

GBH surveys the battle between Native Americans, conservationists and people who want to save some money and people who say the South Natick Dam is the only scenic thing about the damn river in their town and so well worth the extra money it would cost to repair.

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On the downstream side of low-head dams like this one, there's a region of back-rotating that can be nearly impossible for a swimmer or kayaker to escape from if they end up in it. This kills a number of people each year across the country.

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Came here to say what you said. I saw the picture in the linked article and my first thought was "low-head dam". There's another name for these in the boating community: "drowning machine". Most people have no idea how dangerous they are.

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Looks like a slam dunk decision to remove the dam for a number of reasons. Only sentiment seems in favor of keeping the dam.

Lets keep going to remove a few more dams along the Charles!

Remove the gosh darn dam!

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Came to this article with the blissfully-ignorant bias "hey, dams are pretty and interesting, and they're probably good for water quality with the aeration or something". Mind pretty quickly changed. Piano sculpture seems like a great idea!

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That would drastically change the character of both Waltham and upstream Auburndale. That's not alone a reason to keep the dam, but the debate over this would be fierce.

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...but the dam's got to go. Commission a cool sculpture for the middle of where the dam was if the locals want something neat to look at.

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The modern piano (the cast frame allowing for higher tension strings) was invented in Natick. I'm not sure how many people realize how important Natick is to modern music as a result of that invention.

So a cool sculpture would be a piano "floating" on the surface of the Charles the same way they display cars on the water features in golf competitions.

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I wanted to learn more about the piano thing, but I couldn't find anything. Do you have some sources or names?

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I love this idea, but where does the association with Natick come from? The invention of the cast-iron frame piano is usually attributed to Jonas Chickering, founder of Chickering & Sons, who was based in Boston. Were they ever in Natick?

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So one thing with dropping a sculpture in the water is the local Native American Tribe is on record as saying they want the dam gone and find it insulting. Many members of the board seemed to be moved by their testimony. I'm not saying what should and shouldn't happen but that issue needs to be addressed first

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Small dams are not good for the environment, It should come down.


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“All they’re doing now is harming the health of the river and the animals and the plants that rely on it.”

I feel like this statement should have already ended the debate. If it's not serving any purpose and also harming the environment then just take it down and replace it with some other cool park. For the cost of the dam you could do a lot of other nice things.

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