USERS WANT MURKY POND CLEANED - NOW
Author(s): Lisa Keen Globe Correspondent Date: June 9, 2005 Page: 1 Section: Globe WestWellesley residents who live on Morses Pond want action now this summer, if possible to clean up the weeds and the smell. At a public forum Monday, they complained that the town has spent six years talking about doing something while the pond has only gotten murkier. Most of the 50 to 60 people who turned out for the Morses Pond Ad Hoc Committee forum were pond abutters or recreational users. They say that weeds and algae have spoiled most recreational uses of the pond and are turning some lovely coves into "bogs." Ken Wagner, an environmental specialist hired by the town, presented a series of options for clearing up the pond, a process that he said could take up to a decade. Wagner said the quickest and cheapest solution is the herbicide fluridone, the effects of which would be visible within three months. He said the cost of two applications administered over a 20-year period would be $300,000. Wagner said other options include dredging, which he estimated at $5 million; hand-pulling the overgrowth, which would cost $2.9 million; bottom barriers, which would cover mostly the shoreline and cost $3.6 million; and harvesting (or mowing), $1.2 million. He also cited several relatively inexpensive methods, such as replanting with less intrusive species, but questioned their effectiveness. Sara Frost Azzam, president of the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project, called the herbicide a "quick, cheap fix and it kills things." The Cancer Prevention Project opposes the use of any herbicide in Morses Pond, as does the town's Board of Health. Wagner defended fluridone during the public forum, chastising Azzam for suggesting "better safe than sorry" as a guiding principle and for comparing fluridone to materials such as DDT and asbestos. He compared the concentration of fluridone that would be used in a pilot progam to a drop in a swimming pool. But Richard Morse, a resident who lives several miles from the pond, defended Azzam's cautionary note and criticized Wagner as being too dismissive of alternative options. A final hearing on options for Morses Pond will be held next Thursday. The Natural Resources Commission is expected to vote later that night on whether herbicide could be considered for use in the pond. The Ad Hoc Committee plans to have a comprehensive proposal for the pond ready in August, to be followed by another round of public hearings. Several residents suggested that abutters of Morses Pond raise money themselves to pay for improvements at the pond. But, because the pond provides 40 percent of the drinking-water supply and is considered an important recreational site, the town is likely to take the lead in any restorative measures. Behind the scenes, some suggest the town should consider other ways to provide a swimming area. James Conlin , chairman of the Wellesley Recreation Commission, said his panel four or five years ago explored building an in-pond swimming pool in which water could be treated without affecting the entire pond. But that option, he said, "looked like it was going to cost upwards of $3 [million] or $4 million. "We were sufficiently intimidated by the numbers that we choked," Conlin said. "It was more than we wanted to spend." Beyond its value as a water supply, recreational site, and attractive backyard view, the pond is a "wonderful natural resource," said Carl Fleischer, who represents the Recreation Commission on the Ad Hoc Committee. "Swimming is an important part of town employment of the pond, but you have many other forms of enjoyment, too," such as boating, picnicking, and a place to enjoy nature. "It's something the town is going to have to decide whether it wants to spend the money to preserve the pond or not. It's really the pearl in the town's open space crown," he said. The hearing on management alternatives for Morses Pond is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. next Thursday at Town Hall.
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