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Amherst Residents Vote to Save Historic Mill Pond In Referendum

Village Board Will Soon Decide Ultimate Fate Of Pond

Amherst's mill pond. Photo: Carolyn Tiry (CC-BY-SA).

Residents of Amherst, a village in central Wisconsin, have voted in favor of saving their historic mill pond on the Tomorrow River, though the fate of the pond is ultimately up to the village board.

Amherst residents voted by a 57-percent margin to increase their own taxes in order to repair the dam and save the 42-acre recreational body of water that the village was built around more than a century ago.

Village President Michael Juris said it was hard for people to imagine the village without the pond.

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“We have park land that adjoins the pond,” said Juris. “Our library sits on the shore of the pond. We have a boat landing on the pond. And the wildlife, and the waterfall, the scenic beauty of it appealed to enough people to decide that it was worth their tax dollars to keep it in place.”

It could cost as much as $ 1.25 million to repair or replace the dam so that it meets flood standards set by the Department of Natural Resources. Some of the costs could be offset by a $400,000 state grant.

Juris said that in two weeks, the results of the advisory referendum will be discussed by the village board, which has the final say in the matter. He said he expects the board will also vote for the tax increase.

“I would expect that this would pass,” said Juris. “Although we have some division among the board … this is a pretty strong indication of the direction that the residents of the village wish to go.”

About 350 people — more than half the registered voters in Amherst — cast ballots on the referendum question.