Friday, June 27, 2014

Issues confronting Millbrook Meadow and Pond

Lura Phillips and Gunilla, 1993


June 26, 2014
To the editor:
Regarding the future of Millbrook meadow and pond, we will shortly receive the final report from our contractors, Milone & MacBroom, a great step ahead in the restoration of the meadow and ponds. We have already learned some of the findings. My own thoughts on some of the most crucial issues in the meadow:

Mill Pond: The pond has silted up, and the invasive plants (phragmites, purple loosestrife and others) have spread out and overtaken a large section of the pond. Having seen a picture of the pond from the fifties, I can imagine what is to come.

Cattails and other invasive plants are filling up our Pond.

The silting then had caused the pond to be so shallow that you could walk across the mud to the other side. It is happening again, and if not stopped, we are in danger of having the pond turn into a (possibly malodorous) marsh, with the brook finding its way through it. The pond must be dredged, and the invasive plants curtailed.

Frog Pond: This little pond needs cleaning out, and, as with Mill Pond, the plants adjusted to allow the proper flow of the brook as well as an open area for ducks, etc.

Hardly room for ducks in our clogged Frog Pond!

The Meadow: The drains under the meadow must be rebuilt in order to take care of drainage from parking lot, Mill Lane, etc. Water-tolerant trees need to replace dead or lost ones.

The Mill Brook: Milone and MacBroom has done studies and taken flow measurements of the brook. They will advise on the best shape, depth, and width of the brook to accommodate the water flow. The brook may remain straight, be slightly curved, or deepened to accommodate larger water flow. The culvert under Beach Street has to be structured to allow unobstructed flow in and out of the meadow.

This old willow, planted about 1912, is dying from inside out. (1980 photo)

The Willows: Oh, the beloved willows. The memories. Sitting underneath for a chat with Lura. Story hour with our children.
Now, the willows must be pensioned. The great willow was a grand, mature tree in 1950, and is now past even simple decline. The core of the trunk is full of sawdust, the great branches are dead and falling. Let’s not wait for a calamity that causes injury to children playing underneath, or damage to the Settlers Bridge or a neighboring yard if the tree falls. If we simply cut all the large, dead branches, the tree will be completely unbalanced, and even more likely to come crashing down.

Instead, there should be a celebration of these beloved old giants, and then a planting of new willows to take their place. Not saplings, but young trees of perhaps 10 or 12 feet.
Willows grow at a rate of five feet a year, and we would soon be sitting in their shade again. Arbor Day may be a nice day for planting the new trees.

 [Note: Gunilla Caulfield has been the Trustee of the Lura Hall Phillips Trust for the Meadow since 1994, when Lura died.]

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