NEWBURYPORT – City Council voted unanimously this week to collectively approve two requests for Community Preservation Act funding, totaling $ 312,035, for the restoration of the stagnant frog pond at Bartlet Mall and its fountain which does not work.
The Parks Department and the Parks Commission have requested $ 186,035 for efforts to improve water quality at Frog Pond, as well as $ 126,000 for the restoration of the Swan Fountain.
In February, Parks Commission Chair Kim Turner appeared before council to present plans to restore Bartlet Mall Pond after decades of discoloration and degradation in water quality. .
She said this was one of her “most critical goals since joining the commission about seven years ago.”
The mall was used by cattle in the early 1600s and then as a place of industry – rope making and ice harvesting – in the 1700s. It was even a training ground for the militia during the war. independence, Turner told the board.
When the promenade in front of the courthouse was built in 1800, a deep ravine at the head of Green Street was filled in, cutting off the freshwater supply to the pond and causing discoloration and an unpleasant odor.
In the late 1800s, Edward Moseley donated a fountain in memory of his father, Ebenezer Moseley. The fountain was connected to a municipal water source and aerated the water for nearly 100 years, according to Turner.
In the 1980s, the fountain had disintegrated due to poor water quality, so a group of residents campaigned for its replacement.
In 1987, sculptor Jeffrey Briggs donated his time and resources to design and build a new fountain, but he warned the city of the water quality problem.
At the same time, the city began to divert stormwater from nearby streets to the pond, which people say contributed to the decline in water quality. The fountain had to be closed in the late 1980s and has not been in operation since.
Speaking by phone Tuesday, Turner explained that the city had previously allocated CPA funds for the project, allowing park officials to hire a water engineer and a licensed site professional to examine the water quality and sediment in the pond.
The findings from that effort were finalized in August and provided park officials with five potential options to tackle the problem.
“What was really good is that we have the ability to rotate as we go,” said Turner, explaining that if an option doesn’t work or it seems overpriced, it will be easy to switch to one. another option.
These options range from pond dredging to a few different encapsulation possibilities.
One idea for encapsulation was to cover the bottom of the pond with a geosynthetic liner, while another idea involved a clay liner.
There is also a chemical control option, which Parks Department officials are trying to avoid.
Park officials still need to do more testing to get an idea of the final costs of the project.
The project’s timeline is unclear at this time, but Turner hopes to have documentation for contractors’ cost estimates by next spring.
Park officials are also discussing various aspects of the project with the Conservation Commission.
Right now, the goal is to “give everyone the assurance that we are doing it the right way, once and for all, and then we can make an offer and hopefully get the job done,” he said. Turner said.
Although the funding from the PCA will help pay for the project, more funding will likely be required. Park officials will review state and federal grant options, as well as local fundraising opportunities.
“We want to bring everyone on board to try and bring the Pond back to the crown jewel that it is for the city,” Turner said.
To learn more about the project, visit http://newburyportparks.com/bartlet-mall-restoration.html.
Journalist Heather Alterisio can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.