Easthampton’s Nashawannuck Pond committee seeks CPA funds to help with $301,000 project

  • Kayaks, canoes and pedal boats rented from Valley Paddler ply Nashawannuck Pond during Easthampton's sixth annual Cultural Chaos street festival on Saturday, June 8, 2019. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/15/2019 12:18:51 AM

EASTHAMPTON — The Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee is asking the city for $261,000 in Community Preservation Act funds in order to remove built-up sediment in man-made containment areas near the water.

The pond committee is prepared to use $40,000 of its own raised money to help offset the total $301,000 price tag for removing the sediment at the Broad Brook and White Brook siltation projects, and for reconstructing a collapsed road that leads to the Broad Brook basin, according to Paul Nowak, chairman of the pond committee.

Nowak said that since the containment areas were permitted in 1992, they have never been emptied, leading them to be full and overflowing. The areas filter silt from water flowing into the pond from the two brooks’ feeder streams, he said, so the pond doesn’t become full with sediment.

“Ponds are destined to die anyway due to this process,” Nowak said of sediment creeping into the pond. “The importance of these projects, here, is to save that from happening.”

The areas were originally installed due to a requirement by the Army Corps of Engineers when the city was looking to dredge the pond, he said. In 2009, the city embarked on a $2.3 million dredging project that was estimated to have removed 55,000 cubic yards of sediment from the pond.

Sediment usually comes from sand on roadways and from natural erosion, Nowak said. Not only does sediment decrease the total area of the pond — Nashawannuck is now 35 acres in total in comparison to its starting 50 acres, he said — certain nutrients carried along with sand can cause “nuisance” plant life to grow.

The Broad Brook basin, a one-third acre body of water next to the brook, and the White Brook Gabion Weir, a dam-like structure that stops silt, should be cleaned out every five to 10 years but they never have, Nowak said.

If granted the funds, the committee would mechanically remove the sediment from the siltation projects and haul it to a containment area to be dewatered, he said. If the sediment isn’t removed now, he said, the town would have to spend more money in the future to re-dredge the pond.

“What we want to do is keep the pond at its present state,” Nowak said.

A road leading to the Broad Brook basin which has collapsed would also be re-constructed with the funds, he said. 

Nowak and the pond committee recently went to a CPA Committee meeting in June where they expressed the need for project funds. At the time, the CPA Committee told them to come back with more information regarding the necessity of the project.

The pond committee is expected to return to the CPA Committee on July 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building with more information, including the Army Corps of Engineers’ initial reasoning for installation of these catch areas, according to City Councilor Daniel Rist, chairman of the CPA Committee.

Rist said he thought the pond committee had a “valid request,” noting that the pond was a valuable asset to the city.

“I believe it is a very worthy project,” he said.

Rist said he was glad the pond committee is willing to contribute money to the project, saying he believed it was an important gesture as the investment gave the project better chances to be approved by the full City Council.

“What they’re trying to do is use the money judiciously so they don’t have to do this again,” he said in regard to the 2009 dredging.

He said this was an example of how CPA funds could be used to improve the quality of life for people who live and visit the city.

As for the next CPA Committee meeting, Rist said he was optimistic that the panel would recommend for funds to be allocated for the project to the City Council.

“The pond is a jewel of our community, how could we not do it?” he said.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.

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