Money for Cornell Pond dam may go to other improvements

Jul 1, 2019

North Dartmouth’s Cornell Pond could get a new facelift, as money set aside for a study on refurbishing the pond’s dam may be used for beautification of the area instead.

The Cornell Pond Advisory Committee has said that it plans to ask at the October Town Meeting to use $35,000 to clear vegetation and build bridges and trails connecting the waterside to a neighboring DNRT property.

The money had been set aside at Town Meeting in October 2017 for a study on the dam’s risks and evaluation of the pond’s sediments, as the State had previously deemed the facility a “significant” hazard.

But according to Advisory Committee chair Bill Chandler, the committee was able to get a study from the Re-Solve, Inc. EPA superfund site upstream of the pond.

Chandler said that the report showed minimal flood damage would occur in the case of a dam breach.

As a result, the state downgraded the dam’s classification to a “low” hazard, giving the town ten years instead of two to decide if it wants to refurbish the dam.

Since the committee didn’t use the appropriated funds, it is now hoping to ask Town Meeting to put the money towards improving amenities at the pond.

This would include conducting a land survey and clearing brush, building a series of bridges across spillways, and creating a path to connect with trails at DNRT’s nearby Howland Reserve — which would provide reserve visitors with much-needed parking.

“We’re looking to beautify the area,” said committee member Gloria Bancroft. “If you drive by right now, it’s so overgrown.”

Committee member Dave Cunha agreed, noting that the property used to have a fire pit that is now so overgrown people can’t even find it. 

Clearing the brush would also allow town and state workers to see potential issues with blocked spillways and other dam structures.

Cunha is drafting a work plan for review at the committee’s next meeting on July 9.

“This would really benefit the town,” Cunha said of the project.

“We’ve saved the dam, we were successful in that, and now we have all this momentum,” said Bancroft. “We should do something with it.”