Martins Pond Association


History of the Martins Pond Association

Excerpts from History of the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee and Martins Pond Association by Lida Jenny, 2000

September 1992-Martins Pond Association Formed

In September 1992, the committee had an exhibit on the pond area’s history at the North Reading Business Showcase and later at the library. We collected names and addresses of 50+ people interested in starting a Martins Pond Association, which would help, establish our current objectives and goals. The pond committee proposed the following long-term goals for the newly forming pond association:

  • Protect the delicate environmental balance of Martins Pond through careful, long-term management and education.
  • Establish the MPA as a politically and economically viable group.
  • Enhance the recreational and social value of Martins Pond and its facilities.

The pond association, unlike the town appointed committee, could have an unlimited number of members and could have social goals as well. We did a mailing to these 50+ families including a letter with our proposed goals and a survey to return. The survey asked about what their primary concerns with the pond are, what activities they currently did or would like to do on the pond, brands/types of laundry and dishwater soap used (did they contain phosphates – now they are banned), type and age of septic system, frequency and cost to pump out, use of lawn fertilizer, etc.

Clarke Park Playground In Need of Care

At this point, Clarke Park Playground, located on Martins Pond in North Reading, had become an unsafe eyesore. Playground equipment was neglected, rusty and dangerous. The park was vandalized with graffiti and littered with trash. Complaints of illegal activity such as teen drinking and drug use tainted the image of the surrounding community. Few people used the park for its intended purposes.

1992-Martins Pond Association Playground Committee formed

In the fall of 1992, a group of local citizens formed the Martins Pond Association Playground Committee. They had a vision of how beautiful this waterfront park could be. We developed a master plan for improvements. We brought our ideas to the attention of the town’s Recreation Committee and asked for their help and cooperation.

Some town funds were available, but to realize our vision, we needed to generate other funding sources. The committee began holding three major fundraising events per year: a Winter Festival, Summer Festival, and Children’s Haunted Playground.

February 1993-The First Winter Festival

The first Winter Festival was held in February 1993. The Winter Festivals generally offer ice skating, ice fishing demo, pony rides, face painting, photos with a costumed characters such as Scooby Doo and Po the Teletubby, hot food, free organized games with prizes, raffles (including 200 gallons of home heating oil) and a campfire to warm up by. We have had sled dogs, an ice carver, a dog obedience demonstration, and ice divers.

1995-The First Summer Festival

In 1995, we held our first Summer Festival. The Summer Festivals generally offer live music, a moon bounce, fishing derby, canoe races (new in ’00), flea market, craft vendors, pony rides, face painting, hair braiding, photos with costumed character such as Elmo and clowns, food, free organized games with prizes and raffles (including bicycles). We have had fire engines, police bikes and Kid Care I.D. pamphlets, country line dancers, cloggers and amphibious car/boat rides with Popeye (Arthur Gonsalves).

1995-The First Children’s Haunted Playground

In 1995, we held our first Children’s Haunted Playground. These events are in the evening prior to Halloween (unless postponed). We encourage children from ages three to ten to attend in costume, but all ages are welcome. Families are taken on a guided tour of spooky skits built around the park.

Past tours have included a haunted house, Dracula, pirates, Indians, aliens, scarecrows, a swamp monster, werewolf, gorilla, Egyptian mummies, fortuneteller and a spooky graveyard on the beach. We also hold a costume parade and give out many prizes.

Other Fundraising Events

We have tried other fundraising events including the following: two children’s concerts, a casino/Las Vegas night, and two nights at the Horseshoe Cafe (’95 and ‘99). We have had an exhibit at several of the North Reading Business Showcase events (‘92- ‘9 6) and we have participated in the North Reading Memorial Day Parades since 1999.

Newsletters

We also have one or two newsletters a year to inform the pond community about issues affecting our neighborhood. Some of the issues that we have kept our neighbors abreast of include:

Spring and fall clean-up days at the park
Pond and neighborhood trouble spots

1993-Environmental Workshops

The pond committee sponsored a series of environmental workshops in 1993 on watershed issues at the library on Saturday mornings including learning how to certify a vernal pool, sources and prevention of non-point source pollution, and landscaping near ponds and wetlands.

1995-“Sister Pond Project”

The pond committee received a state Dept. of Environmental Management small ponds grant for $6,800 to create the “Sister Pond Project” – a town-wide watershed awareness program including four of the town’s ponds (Martins, Eisenhaure, Swan and Furbish).

Toohill Environmental Associates conducted three public workshops in the fall of 1995 to address the residents’ needs and concerns and initiated three water quality-monitoring workshops at each of the ponds. (As part of this grant, $2,500 in water quality monitoring equipment was purchased in 1996.)

1995-Successful Conservation Efforts

In 1995, public support of the Conservation Commission’s recommendations for conversion of town owned land around the pond (as well as land abutting both the Skug River and Martins Brook) to be put in trust as conservation land rather than offered for sale.

*Rivers Protection Bill
Establishes setbacks for new development along designated rivers and streams.

*1993 Phosphate Bill
Bans the use of phosphates in laundry detergents. This is great news as phosphates get into the ground water that feeds lakes, thus contributing excess nutrients that foster algae blooms and overabundant aquatic plants.

*1998-Sidewalk Built

Four years of our lobbying efforts to have a sidewalk built on Burroughs Road from Main Street to Lakeside Blvd. to connect to existing sidewalks and create a safe pedestrian passageway between the shopping area, Clarke Park and the Martins Pond community on a narrow road – the only access road to hundreds of homes

*Lost Colony Awareness
Potential development on the north side of the pond on Andover land (another lost colony – Andover land accessible only by Burroughs Road in North Reading. – potential traffic, loss of open space, water supply threat)

*2nd Phase of Wastewater Management Plan
Support of town article to fund 2nd phase of wastewater management plan (could directly help those with small lots around the pond with an off-site treatment plant for the pond area) and keep water in our watershed

*Boat ramp improvements – pros and cons

*Boating regulations on the pond

*Chapter 91/dock registration

*New Title V septic system guidelines

*Betterment Bill
Enables towns to apply for money at a municipal borrowing rate to pay for upgrading your septic system (residents apply to their town and are billed with their tax bill over 10-20 years)

*Park activities/ park closing time

*Martins Pond Redemption Center Gift Account
Bottle and can deposits can be donated to the Martins Pond Gift Account at New England Beverage and Redemption Center.

Accomplishments

  • Removed unsafe playground structures
  • Installed lighting
  • Confined the parking area to deter illegal activities
  • Encouraged evening usage of basketball and volleyball courts
  • Enlarged the fenced in tot lot and added swing gates for safety
  • Added four wooden Amish-built play structures with a transportation theme (an airplane and pirate ship in ’95, and a train and a rocket ship in ’96. The pirate ship was christened the “Clarke Ark.”
  • In 1996, we also installed a sand volleyball court, two picnic table mini shelters, a bicycle rack mini shelter, and toddler swings.
  • The Clarke Park Memorial has been enhanced with new cobblestones and plants.
  • Trees have been transplanted around the tot lot.
  • Water and electricity have been added to the pavilion area by underground pipes.
  • We had the town erect a sign on Main Street at Burroughs Road for Martins Pond and Clarke Park.

1996-Martins Pond Boosters Donation

In fall of 1996, we received a generous gift of about $2,800 from the now inactive Martins Pond Boosters. Their group had raised this money in the past at social events at the park. The money was deposited into the new Martins Pond gift account to use for improvements at the park. Contributions to this account are tax deductible and can be mailed to town hall in care of the Martins Pond Committee.

1997-Bathhouse Repairs

In 1997, repairs were made to the bathhouse’s walls. Volunteer painters, led by Jack and Joyce Vasapoli, repainted the mural on its exterior wall depicting the newest features of the park. This replaced the badly peeling mural that had been done about fifteen years ago. In July, Team Fleet helped our volunteers to spruce up and paint. Many of the wooden play structures were stained.

1998-Turtle Trail

At the 1998 Summer Festival, we unveiled the Turtle Trail, which is a walk through the history of Martins Pond. The approximately 650-foot asphalt loop trail mirrors the shape of Martins Pond and is designed to be an interpretive path to enable people to learn the geology and history of the pond and its formation 11,000 years ago.

Stenciled turtles with numbers were painted around the trail. Trail guides are available at the new mini shelter at the beginning of the trail. The double-sided information board/mini shelter shows an aerial photo of the pond and explains local history and the meaning of a watershed.

The center of the Turtle Trail path filters parking lot runoff so the cleaner water enters the pond. The center is also flooded in winter for safe ice-skating. The trail offers handicapped accessibility to a fishing area. Kids love to ride their bikes, skateboards, scooters, or rollerblades around the loop. This project has something for everyone.

The pond committee received a $4,000 matching grant from the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Management (Lake and Pond Grant Program) to build this. The town’s matching share came from the Martins Pond Gift Account ($2,000) and the Martins Pond Study Committee account ($2,000).

1998-Improvements

In fall of 1998, we added a new 12-foot spiral slide to the playground replacing an older metal spiral slide. We built shelving in the bathhouse to store festival supplies. The Parks Dept. resurfaced the pavilion floor and made landscaping improvements.

1999-Improvements

  • We stained the swings, signboards and picnic shelters.
  • We purchased four new park benches from recycled plastic.
  • We also purchased the full color digital print map of the pond with Lexan protection for the Turtle Trail signboard.
  • The Parks Department installed the benches, replaced the pavilion floor, purchased and installed a players bench by the volleyball court, added a water fountain, soda machine with cement pad, more picnic tables and a new section of sidewalk. They also installed a new enlarged basketball court and plantings.
  • For our events, we purchased three walkie-talkies, a propane stove, fog machine, and black light.
  • We re-designed and purchased more Martins Pond T-shirts to sell.

2000-Improvements

  • Quality Striping donated their services to paint and line the new basketball court.
  • We purchased a remote microphone, some costumes, lighting and decorations for future events.
  • Future Plans

    We are now focusing on the handicapped accessibility of the park. Our current fundraising efforts will increase the network of sidewalks within the park, and we will continue to work with the town to replace the oldest climbing structure, pave the parking area and renovate the bathhouse to include a handicapped accessible bathroom.

    The park has become a favorite place for toddlers to play safely, for teens to play basketball, and for neighborhood volleyball games. The park is also frequently rented out in warm weather for parties and corporate volleyball games.

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