2002 Annual Report

Martins Pond Association
c/o North Reading Town Hall
235 North St
North Reading MA 01864 Contacts:
Lida Jenney
or
Janet Nicosia

2002 Annual Report of the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee and the Martins Pond Association

The Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee (MPRSC) and Martins Pond Association (MPA) spent 2002 working on many important local issues with cooperation and assistance from state and local officials, Merrimack College, and private consultants. These issues included:

  • Flooding
  • Development of a watershed management plan and ways to reduce invasive aquatics
  • Execution of the Lakes and Ponds study
  • Identifying and applying for funds for future studies and actions
  • The committee held two public meetings (April 4 and December 18) where we gained four new members and reviewed ongoing projects. We attended workshops to improve our knowledge of lake and pond issues. Also, we continued to create or participate in events to raise funds for future park improvements and/or environmental efforts.

Flooding:

In January and February, we met with the town’s Development Team about flooding problems in the pond area. We continued to work with the Town Engineer, Public Works, Water Dept. and Malcolm Pirnie Engineers to evaluate the causes of flooding around Martins Pond and how to lessen its severity in the future. In response to our concerns, the water dept. agreed to start a water testing program for swimming quality. The DPW agreed to support a Flood Emergency Management Plan involving fire, police, schools, DPW, and a Martins Pond representative. A plan is in initial draft stage with further meetings planned.

Water flow restrictions were identified at: the bridge at Rt. 62, the weirs at Rt. 62, Martins Brook, the culvert within Benevento’s, and the beaver dam at the end of Fieldcrest Terrace. Various actions were taken during the year in regard to these locations.

DPW conducted a rating of the Rt. 62 Bridge by Benevento’s in Wilmington. A substandard rating was received and it has been put on the State list for replacement. A larger bridge could accommodate more water volume during high flow events. DPW met with Wilmington representatives to discuss the use and need of the weir boards to develop communication and an action plan.

Benevento has agreed to add a culvert or increase the size of their existing six-foot diameter culvert to help increase our water capacity. Further investigation is needed into why the Skug River inlet is storing water as this affects our flood events and storm delay times.

The Martins Brook outlet is impaired by overgrowth of weeds and possible sedimentation. Purple Loosestrife and Water Willow are two of the problem plants identified. In Spring 2002 the association, in partnership with Merrimack College, initiated a Purple Loosestrife project, administered by the DEM, and released Galerucella beetles to combat the Purple Loosestrife. The project will continue in 2003 and visible results should appear in three to ten years.

Jim Muldoon, the Committee’s liaison to the Board of Selectman, urged the town to apply to the Army Corps of Engineers for a community flood assistance grant. We received second place priority for assistance and expect a Spring 2003 study to begin at no cost to the town. Conservation agreed to help streamline the process to remove beaver dams that has become a town-wide problem. We continue to investigate and identify beaver activity in Martins Brook, Martins Pond and the Skug River, and research long-term solutions. The beaver dam at the end of Fieldcrest Terrace was breached in December.

Watershed Management Plan and Invasive Aquatics:

In December 2001, the Town, in conjunction with the MPRSC, requested assistance from Malcolm Pirnie Engineers for the submittal of a Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Lake and Pond Grant application. In April 2002, North Reading was awarded the grant. The voters at April’s town meeting approved article 19 to fund the Lakes and Pond Grant for $50,000. The grant will reimburse the town 50% ($25,000) of the total project cost. This article authorized the Dept of Public Works to prepare a watershed management plan for the Martins Pond area to assess the current condition of the watershed, including water quality, flooding, wildlife issues, and invasive plant species; and will supplement efforts currently being accomplished under the Town’s Storm Water Management Plan. An assessment of the hydraulic conditions of the pond, including the Skug River and Martins Brook was included. In addition, the grant covered a pilot study for the release of the Galerucella Beetle to control an invasive plant species, Purple Loosestrife. Purple loosestrife is an aggressive invader of North American wetland, lakes and rivers, often affecting the biodiversity of an area.

We continued our partnership with the Environmental Science program at Merrimack College and the town. In the fall of 2001, the MPA contacted Dr. Jon Lyon to see if Merrimack College would be interested in working with Martin s Pond on the biological control of Purple Loosestrife. Dr. Lyon agreed and integrated Martins Pond into his Environmental Management course at Merrimack in the spring semester of 2002. Merrimack College worked with the MPA/MPRSC and the Association of Massachusetts Wetland Scientists to develop a biocontrol program for Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). This consisted of propagation and release of the Galerucella beetles and long term field monitoring of the beetles at three release sites near Martins Pond. In February, the beetles were raised in the greenhouse at the college on purple loosestrife samples taken from the pond area. The beetles were released in June 2002 on three marked sites on Martins Brook to the south of the pond to eat the Purple Loosestrife. Merrimack College student Mike Rock is using the beetle release and subsequent monitoring as part of his senior research project in the Dept. of Biology. On July 28, the Boston Globe wrote an article about this project titled Bugs deployed against weed. The Massachusetts Watershed Initiative also highlighted the work being done at Martins Pond in their communications per Rich Tomczyk, Ipswich and Parker River Watershed Team Leader, Mass. DEM.

Once the DEM Lake and Pond grant was approved, Merrimack College offered to assist with the grant assessment work and a project team was formed to complete the grant scope of work. The team included the Town of North Reading, the MPA/MPRSC, Merrimack College and Malcolm Pirnie Engineers. The Merrimack class also investigated several aspects of the ecology and water quality in Martins Pond, its surrounding wetlands and the pond’s watershed. The semester ended with a presentation of their results at the North Reading Town Hall in April 2002. This partnership continued through the summer and fall of 2002, and is planning to continue through 2004.

Nine monitoring gauges are being installed by our town’s DPW to continue to monitor the water levels upstream, downstream and in Martins Pond to try and prevent future flooding and track seasonal changes. We are also in the process of ordering GPS (global positional system) units to help in making consistent measurements.

Zoning:

Benevento currently owns a large unused plot of land that abuts the wetlands buffering Martins Pond. We met with the Community Planning Commission about the proposed change of zoning of that parcel from residential to industrial/office. This would prevent any developer from building more houses that would lessen our school space problem. In addition, any industrial office that may be built would have to allow more open space around the wetlands. This could help the Martins Pond area residents retain the natural beauty to the south of the pond. This was passed at town meeting.

New Legislation/Funding Sources:

We kept in touch with our elected officials on our needs and concerns. The Mass. House of Representatives and the Senate approved the Environmental Bond Bill on August 30. Thanks to Senator Bruce Tarr and Rep. Brad Jones, up to $300,000 has been earmarked for projects to benefit Martins Pond and Martins Brook. The intended use of this funding will be to implement the actions recommended by the Lakes and Pond Study and/or the U.S. Army Corps study.

At October 2002 town meeting, a new by-law was passed regarding restrictions on the use of recreational vehicles (including snowmobiles). It is now unlawful to operate in or within 300 feet of a residential zone except on land owned by the owner of such vehicle. The MPA plans to hand out snowmobile etiquette flyers at the Winter Festival.

Members:

As of the end of the year, there were five regular members of the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee: Missy Correlle (37 Lakeside Blvd.), Lida Jenney (6 Shore Road), Janet Nicosia (2 Poplar Terrace), Ann O’Hearn (15C Shore Road), and Scott Ronco (4 Poplar Terrace). The Martins Pond Association can have an unlimited number of members. To learn more about these two groups, visit our web site: www.martinspond.org. Mike Scannell of the MPA agreed to join the Wastewater Planning Advisory Committee as the Martins Pond Association representative.

Workshops/Conferences Attended:

On January 24 and 25, Janet Nicosia and Mike Scannell attended the EPA Workshop titled “Tools for Watershed Protection: A Workshop for Local Government” in Boston.
On January 26, Lida Jenney and Chuck Hardesty attended COLAP’s Annual Lake and Pond Management Workshop in Leicester.

On March 9, Janet Nicosia and Dr. Jon Lyon of Merrimack College attended a workshop on raising the Galerucella beetles to combat Purple Loosestrife.

On August 20, members of the DEM’s Lake and Pond Initiative came to Martins Pond to give training to MPA members on how to identify invasive plants. We intend to create a Weed Watcher group to enhance early detection/rapid response of invasive aquatic plants. Brochures and learning aids were distributed.

On September 18, Janet Nicosia and Kath Geoffrion-Scannell attended a workshop on water quality put on by Mike Davis of Clean Water.org at the town library.

On November 23, Lida Jenney and Janet Nicosia attended the Ipswich River Watershed Conference in Danvers.
MPA Events/Fundraisers:

This year’s fundraisers earned over $3,100.

9th Annual Winter Festival – Saturday, February 2nd
MPA had their annual Winter Festival at Clarke Park that raised about $500. Special events included pony rides, photos with Clifford the big red dog, huge inflated caterpillar to climb in, face painting, hot food, campfire, games, raffles and prizes.

Town of North Reading Memorial Day Parade – Monday, May 27
The MPA prepared a “float” from a canoe on a trailer pulled by a bicyclist. The canoe was filled with children dressed as pirates and a mom and daughter as mermaids.

Drop-in Volleyball at Clarke Park – 6PM til dusk, Thursday nights

Town of North Reading July 4th Festivities – July 3-4
We had a booth at the town festivities at Ipswich River Park where we displayed environmental posters on Martins Pond and the watershed prepared by Merrimack College. We also had other environmental informational brochures, summer festival information, kid’s coloring, and a huge bubble machine.

7th Annual Summer Festival – Saturday, July 13
MPA had their annual Summer Festival at Clarke Park that raised about $1,500. Special events included pony rides, a petting zoo, choo choo moon bounce, henna art, face painting, climbing wall, and two live bands. In addition, there were canoe races, free naturalist-guided pontoon boat rides, free kids’ games, raffles, food, a flea market, and demonstrations by The Dancing School and a Japanese sword fighting show.

8th Annual Children’s Haunted Playground – Saturday, October 19
We had our Children’s Haunted Playground that raised about $1,100. Threat of rain reduced our profits from last year. Our tours included the Road Kill Café, Waldorf School of Witchery, Martin’s Graveyard, and more. We showed Casper the Friendly Ghost movies and gave out awards in our costume contest. Hot food and light rope necklaces were sold.

Ongoing Fundraiser
Drop offs of returnable cans and bottles are accepted at N.E. Beverage and Redemption Center. Upon request, the proceeds will be forwarded to the Martins Pond Gift Account.

Pending Clarke Park Improvements:

The Association funded $11,500 of a $21,000 new play structure for Clarke Park to be installed in 2003.

Respectfully submitted,

Lida Jenney

Martins Pond Committee and Association