News

Small part of Milford’s Osgood Pond to be dredged

Thursday, July 31, 2014

By KATHY CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

MILFORD – Ice skating on a small portion of Osgood Pond might be possible next winter.

Selectmen on Monday night voted to allow wintertime dredging of one or two pond acres near Adams Field, using $60,000 in a special fund.

“We have been waiting for 17 years to spend that money,” said board Chairman Gary Daniels.

It was 17 years ago that the town established a capital reserve fund for the project, and almost 40 years ago that officials started talking about cleaning up the shallow 20-acre pond, which has been filling up with silt and weeds.

Dredging could make it usable again for some canoeing, fishing and ice skating.

But money has always been the big issue, and over the years costs have skyrocketed. A few years ago, a plan proposed with the Army Corp of Engineers as the town’s partner would have cost about $1 million, with Milford picking up $400,000 of that.

By using the $60,000 from a fund started for that purpose in 1997, taxpayers will not have to bear the burden for a project that mostly benefits the abutters.

“It’s a very positive move,” said Fred Elkind, the town’s conservation coordinator, in a phone interview Tuesday.

“This probably has the highest benefit for the least amount of money.” Dredging a much larger area could be 10 times the cost, but not give 10 times the benefit, he said.

About 18 months ago the pond’s dam valve was opened to allow water to drain out in anticipation of dredging.

With much of the water gone, the vegetation will not be as saturated and will be easier to remove.

And with the one or two acres dredged, Elkind said, that portion of the pond would be 6 or 8 feet deep. Then, with the valve closed, the area near Adams Field could have a depth of 8 to 10 feet, he said.

“That’s a significant depth, because (at that level) there is no weed penetration, and it would allow skating and benefit the fish ... and people living next to it will have a pond instead of a marsh.”

Draining the pond, however,
has made the situation worse for people who live around the pond, and this summer they asked selectmen to at least dam the pond again. Without water, vegetation rots and smells and wildlife disappears.

“Residents around the pond have put up with us long enough,” Selectman Kevin Federico said Monday night before the board voted 3-0 to approve the action.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, selectmen and the Conservation Commission decided that Osgood Pond dredging was a major priority. Then in 1983, the commission decided that since there is no money available, the project should be dropped.

In a recent letter to the abutters, Elkind said that during the 2014 budgetary process, selectmen weighed the alternatives and concluded that the 111⁄2 acre dredging of Osgood would not occur in 2014.

The town already has an dredging permit from the state Wetlands Bureau. Last year Daniels helped pass legislation capping the state Department of Environmental Services’ permit fees to $10,000, making the Milford dredging more affordable.

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

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