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May 08. 2013 11:26PM

Suburban oasis

The rise and fall of Londonderry's Adams Pond


This photo depicts Adams Pond, located on the grounds of Moose Hill Apple Orchards, in May 2012. The pond, which has been popular recreation spot for generations of Londonderry residents, was drained by orchard officials this spring after new state DES mandates deemed its dam unsafe. (COURTESY)
LONDONDERRY - A popular recreation spot for generations of Londonderry residents is facing challenges as town and state officials work to determine who is responsible for its future upkeep.

Located on Moose Hill Orchards land, Adams Pond has served as a suburban oasis for dozens of hikers, canoeists, fishermen and dog walkers over the years.

But this spring, visitors to the pond, which is owned by the Mack family but has been part of a town conservation easement since the mid-1990s, have noticed some unwelcome changes in the landscape.

"Due to the structure of the dam, this once beautiful pond has pretty much been reduced to a mud hole," said Kathy Wagner, director of the Londonderry Commerce and Visitors Center (CVC).

Orchard officials said the pond has been there for as long as they can remember, with a wooden dam used to contain the water for a good many decades.

Recently however, new state regulations have deemed the current dam unsafe and, because of that, the property owners opted to drain the pond in the meantime.

The state Department of Environmental Services is requiring Mack's Apples to obtain an engineering study to determine what improvements are necessary. Such a study could cost up to $25,000, according to state Sen. Sharon Carson of Londonderry.

"Until the study is complete, the pond must remain drained and undammed, allowing only the brook to run through it," Wagner said.

As a condition of the conservation easement, the land is supposed to be kept in its natural state and be used for recreational purposes by residents as part of Londonderry's Open Space program.

"Since we've actually used taxpayer dollars to pay for this easement, the question now is whether or not Conservation Commission funds can be used towards this study," Wagner said, noting that the town is working with legal counsel to find an answer.

Carson said she's working closely with state DES officials to see what can be done in the meantime, noting that some state grant funding might be available.

"Quite frankly, I was pretty shocked to see what's happened to this pond," Carson said this week. "Basically, a wetland has been destroyed. This was a beautiful area, one that was a real positive for our community, and now we have the opportunity to rectify this situation."

The Londonderry Town Council has directed Public Works Director Janusz Czyzowski and interim Town Manager Bill Hart to further assess the situation and seek some possible options.

"It's a sad state of affairs, and we're damaging our fragile ecosystem," Councilor Jim Butler said.

As local nature lovers await word on the pond's fate, the Londonderry Commerce and Visitor's Center will host its annual "Visit Adams Pond Day" as planned this Sunday, May 12, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Area families are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch and take a stroll among the apple blossoms as they enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and enter raffles for some Mother's Day items.

"Our hope is to make more people aware of the issues this pond is facing," Wagner said.

aguilmet@newstote.com

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