‘Do your job’: New owners of Johnson’s Pond urge town to maintain dam

West Bay

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A lease between the owners of a Coventry pond caught in the middle of a rift with the town is being disputed in court.

Johnson’s Pond and its dam were sold last year for $1.7 million to Soscia Holdings LLC.

The town and Soscia Holdings are at odds over the current lease between the two and maintenance of the dam.

The lease dictates the water levels and maintenance required for the pond’s dam. Attorney Patrick Dougherty, who’s representing Soscia Holdings, tells 12 News the town is responsible for maintaining the dam.

But he said the town isn’t holding up its end of the bargain.

“Just like Bill Belichick said, ‘Do your job,'” Dougherty said of the town. “Do what is required of you.”

Dougherty said if the dam fails, the owners are liable.

“There is clear erosion throughout the entire dam structure, and erosion leads to seepage,” he explained.

The R.I. Department of Environmental Management, which is in charge of inspecting the state’s dams, issued a four-page letter earlier this week stating there is no risk to the dam that would require lowering the water level.

“Right now, there is nothing that would compel us to order any of this work to be done, it doesn’t rise to the level of unsafe,” David Chopy with the DEM’s Office of Compliance and Inspection said.

The latest dam safety report found the structure was in fair condition, but in need of some repairs.

Soscia Holdings has followed the water level requirements as dictated in the lease, according to the DEM, but those who live on Johnson’s Pond are frustrated with their decision to keep the water at the lowest levels at outlined in the agreement, especially as the weather gets warmer.

“A lot of people are upset,” Jonathan Pascua of the Johnson’s Pone Civic Association said. “They are nervous about what will happen here, and this is historically low from what we’ve seen in April.”

12 News reached out to town officials for comment, but they are not yet speaking publicly on the topic because of the ongoing lawsuit.

Soscia Holdings says they have an agreement through the courts that they must maintain the water levels outlined within the lease until early May, meaning the issue remains fluid.

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