To the editor:
This is an appeal to Rockporters to help us save our green jewel, Millbrook Meadow.
John Sparks and I asked Joe Parisi, Rockport's director of Public Works, to take a walk with us around Millbrook Meadow to start the process of putting together a plan for saving the meadow.
Each time Mill Pond has flooded over the dam in recent years, the meadow has been covered with water, and it drains very slowly.
Mill Brook carries water from all over the Millbrook Watershed, down beside the MBTA station and all the other businesses on Railroad Avenue, into the weed-choked pond, and finally out to Front Beach. That brook is a snaggle-toothed mess.
On Thursday, April 5, we met Joe for the tour. Alice Segel, chairwoman of the Millbrook Meadow Committee, joined us. Alice, who has been chairwoman of the committee since 1998, stepped down a few days later. She has been a very devoted steward of our meadow and we deeply appreciate all her years of service.
John is chairman of an ad-hoc committee that we have formed to connect the many people who would like to save our meadow, Mill Pond, and the whole watershed upstream. He also represents the Rockport Garden Club, and has already done a tremendous job of mapping out a plan for studying the next steps in saving the meadow.
Mill Brook: The brook that has carried water through the meadow for over three centuries, and which at first formed the boundary between the first two families of Rockport — the Tarrs and the Pooles — has fallen on hard times. Stones placed along much of its banks are displaced, some have fallen into the stream, and parts of the bank beside the stream have eroded.
The south side of the brook bank needs to be built up.
Mill Dam: Rebuilding of the dam will start after July 1. It cannot start before then because that would interfere with spawning of alewives and eels. Construction should take about six months.
The new dam will be of reinforced cement, faced with old granite to resemble the dam before it blew out. Bruce Johnson, a local stonework contractor, has a subcontract to do the facing work.
Joe says the contractor will use as much of the existing granite in the dam as possible.
Mill Pond: We toured the northwest bank of the pond, walking through the thick undergrowth that lines the pond. We viewed the heavy plant life that has grown up in the pond in recent years, threatening to turn it into a bog.
There is neither active plan nor any funding to dredge the pond, but we will keep on trying to put this forward as an important town project.
Joe noted that he was interested in the plan that Karl Norwood, an abutter, showed him a year or so ago. Karl, who resides in New Hampshire, took part in a pond clearing project in Bedford, N.H., and had some drawings and experience to share.
Many of us, however, think that the pond is too much a part of the beauty of Rockport to be abandoned. Moreover, from the days in the early 1700s when it was the main power source for mills, it has also been a yearround source of enjoyment for Rockporters, who skate here in winter and fish here in spring, fall and summer.
What can you do?
We need volunteers now to help us bring Millbrook Meadow, Mill Pond, and the whole Millbrook Watershed back to the robust life many remember from just a few years ago. Come down to the meadow on Saturday, April 21, for a big Earth Day Cleanup. We'll work from 8 to 11 a.m. Bring a rake, shears, clippers or loppers.
We need members in Millbrook Meadow Committee. If you'd like to be a part of helping us protect this green jewel right in the heart of Rockport, join us!
We're forming a Rockport Millbrook Watershed Conservancy, to help gather the brainpower and the energy to preserve and protect our meadow and our pond. We can use your knowledge of plant life, animal life, land, water and rocks; or your eagerness to learn about how we can all help to protect this wonderful resource.
Contact us to volunteer for anything or everything!
Millbrook Meadow Committee
Millbrook Watershed Conservancy