Milford pond may get more money for dredging

MILFORD – A possible grant from the state Fish and Game Department could allow more of Osgood Pond to be dredged.

David Wheeler, of Milford, a newly elected member of the state Executive Council, said the town could be awarded a grant of between $25,000 and $50,000 for habitat development.

Plans now call for the dredging of about 2 acres of the weed-infested
pond, near Adams Field, this winter, using $60,000 in a special fund.

The extra money could mean more of the pond could be cleared, and town officials will meet with Fish and Game representatives, said selectmen’s Chairman Gary Daniels. The town will also look at the possibility of using the Fish and Game grant as a match for another grant, he said.

How much dredging could be accomplished by the extra money would depend upon what part of the pond was dredged, the selectman said.

Seventeen years ago, the town established the capital reserve fund for the project, and almost 40 years ago officials started talking about cleaning up the shallow 20-acre pond, which has been filling up with silt and weeds. Over the years, costs skyrocketed, and not long ago a plan proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers would have cost about $1 million, with Milford picking up $400,000 of that. That was considered too expensive for a project that officials say mainly benefits the pond’s abutters.

But it’s generally agreed that dredging could make it usable again for some canoeing, fishing and ice skating.

About 18 months ago, the pond’s dam valve was opened to allow water to drain out in anticipation of dredging so vegetation will be easier to remove.

When the valve is closed, the area near Adams Field could have a depth of 8-10 feet, which would prevent weeds from spreading, allow skating and benefit the fish.

Draining the pond, however, has made the situation worse for people who live around the pond, and its appearance and recreational value has been declining for decades.

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

The town already has a dredging permit from the state Wetlands Bureau. Daniels, a state representative elected state senator last week, helped pass legislation capping the state Department of Environmental Services’ permit fees to $10,000, making the Milford dredging affordable.

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