Nashawannuck Pond To Get Facelift

The city of Easthampton, Mass., near Northampton, and the federal Army Corps of Engineers have awarded a contract worth $1.5 million to Palmer Federal Constructors, Inc. for dredging Nashawannuck Pond. Slated to begin in August, the dredging is the first step of the Aquatic Habitat Restoration of Nashawannuck Pond project. At an approximate cost of $2.5 million dollars, the aim of the project is to repair the ecosystems for aquatic life and to minimize so-called “nonpoint source” pollution threats to the pond. City officials say the revitalization project will take about nine months, and they hope the results will bolster business and recreation in the area.

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(To make the drawing bigger, please click on it, then scroll down and click "See full size image.")

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Created in 1846 by Samuel Williston, the pond originally provided water power to factories in the area. Now a centerpiece of downtown Easthampton, the pond affords an excellent view of Mt. Tom and is close to downtown businesses. The city hopes to take advantage of this placement after the project is completed by creating a promenade that will allow easier access to the pond’s natural beauty and the local shops nearby. "The western shore [of the pond] is owned entirely by the city and abuts Nonotuck Park," Mayor Mike Tautznik told the Valley Post. "We have preliminary plans for a promenade along Williston Avenue and Cottage Street, and would like to re-establish a recreation area at the former Boat House area off of water lane."

Funds have yet to be established for the proposed promenade and recreation area. Upon completion of the pond project in the spring of 2010, city officials say the pond will host the same activities it did before the project: fishing, non-motorized boating, and unsupervised swimming.

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This photo shows Nashawannuck Pond with Mt. Tom in the background. Mt. Tom is about three miles east of the pond. The proposed promenade would go along the shore in the foreground of the photo. Downtown businesses are out of the photo to the left of the pond. photo by Darren Lone Fight

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The project itself has faced very little criticism other than questions over delays. "It seems like a good thing," said Jason Turcotte who works in Easthampton. "The pond is one of the few landmarks in [the town]. [The city] should protect it."

The plans to dredge the pond will help restore depth to a now artificially sediment-loaded body of water. Such a dredging is only one part of a larger strategy that involves reduction of fertilizers and pesticides, and the management of stormwater runoff from the developed areas in the city.

"I've always believed that Nashawannuck Pond was an underutilized and undervalued asset to the community," Tautznik said. "It is clearly the focal point of our downtown business district and it has a spectacular view of Mt. Tom. The bottle shape reflected in the water by the mountain is a part of our city seal and the pond acts as a link to our past and a path to our future."

With the the Nashawannuck Pond and Mt. Tom at the heart of its town, Easthampton is attempting to recover and protect the natural habitat and beauty of the area through its restoration project. Hoped to be not just an aesthetic but also financial boon for the city, such a project offers a strategy that matches environmental sensibility with economic savvy.

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Darren Lone Fight can be reached at darrenlonefight@gmail.com Please put "Valley Post" in the subject line.

Comments

Here is some more information

Here is some more information about why the government wants to dredge the pond. It's from this federal government web page:

www.nae.usace.army.mil/news/2003-124.html

"Dense aquatic weed growth is contributing to the degradation of fish habitat. Very dense stands of aquatic weeds can obstruct fish movements and have been documented to cause fish kills by creating an anoxic environment at night when photosynthetic production of oxygen is ceased.... The overgrowth of weeds is aesthetically unappealing and inhibits the use of Nashawannuck Pond as a recreational resource for the City of Easthampton."

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