News

8 acres of Osgood Pond to be dredged

Thursday, August 15, 2013

By KATHY CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

MILFORD – Dredging 8 acres of Osgood Pond is not enough, people living near the pond told town officials Monday night, but officials said 8 acres is about all the town can afford.

About 25 residents, mostly abutters to the pond, attended the two-hour information session held to review the latest plans to clear some of the weed-covered pond.

Over the past 30 or 40 years, at least, the pond has been filling up with silt and weeds, and dredging will make some of it usable for fishing and canoeing. The dredged eight acres would be the part of the pond closest to Adams Park on Osgood Road.

“The pond is dying,” said Bruce Einsidler-Moore, of Mason Road. “People used to use it so much more” than they do now. “To watch it just die … is disgusting.”

But town officials and an engineering consultant said applying for a permit to dredge more than 8 acres would trigger great interest from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which could make the project far more expensive.

Both the Army engineers and the state Department of Environmental Services have to review the plans before the town can get a wetlands permit, and if the acreage to be cleared gets any larger, the Army engineers will take a closer look, they said.

“You have got a vested interest because you’re abutters,” Selectmen’s Chairman Gary Daniels told the residents, but selectmen need to think about what will be acceptable to voters “and the plate is already full.”

The cost of dredging the 8 acres is unknown, but Town Administrator Guy Scaife said it will likely be more than the $86,700 the town has in a capital reserve fund for Osgood improvements.

And Scaife said the state Fish and Game Department recommended a good balance of wetlands and open water, and that’s the balance this plan achieves.

Milford started talking about cleaning up the pond more than 30 years ago. A plan proposed a few years ago, with the Army Corps as a partner, would have cost about $1 million with the town picking up about $400,000, which was considered prohibitively expensive.

But selectmen and Scaife said there is a limit to how much residents will want to pay.

“There’s only so much we can ask of the taxpayers,” said Selectman Mike Putnam.

Fieldstone Land Consultants is finalizing the wetlands application with the state, and Fieldstone engineer Chad Branon, explained the project in detail.

The goal, he said, is to improve the pond’s function and value by dredging six to eight feet of material out.

“Aesthetically it will be a huge improvement,” he said.

Sally Chappell suggested Fieldstone look into the history of the pond, which was created by damming Great Brook to make an commercial ice pond, she said.

And David Wheeler, who said his daughter is building a house near the pond, showed a photo of his father in a canoe on the pond 70 years ago. The state would consider a multi-tiered permit, he said, so that the town could dredge more acreage eventually.

Paul Amato, of Mason Road, warned that if the town pays for the smaller cleanup there will never be a Phase 2.

“It took 20 years to get this far. We need to look at options to go further now,” he said.

But Fred Elkind, the town’s conservation coordinator, said that applying for a permit to dredge more than 3 acres would likely mean the Army Corps of Engineers would get involved, and the permit gets more complicated.

A 12-acre plan could cost a “couple million dollars,” he said.

“We are trying to make it as easy as possible,” he said, because involvement of the Army engineers could bring the cost way up.

Branon also told people that what they see is not final, and he will “absorb the comments and incorporate them into the plan.”

The improvements would last between 25 and 50 years, Elkind estimated. The dredged material will not be of great value, he said, because it’s mostly made up of fine sand.

A canoe launch, a fishing pier and a picnic area also are planned for the park.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@
cabinet.com.

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