This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
An incomplete history
“At Mare-mount there was a water (by me discovered) that is most excellent for the cure of Melancholly probatum”
Thomas Morton “new English Canaan” circa 1630
Research compiled and presented by Tom Scott
2 Map 1 – Butler’s Pond 1877
Hand drawn map from the Whitfield Collection courtesy of Quincy Historical Society. The Pond is located just above the centre of the map and has a tree on a small island in the middle
Index ............................................................................................................................................... 3 Introduction..................................................................................................................................... 5 Acknowledgements......................................................................................................................... 6 Acronyms and abbreviations used in this report............................................................................. 6 Chapter 1......................................................................................................................................... 9 The formation of Butler’s Pond ...................................................................................................... 9 Chapter 2....................................................................................................................................... 10 History of Settlement and Ownership of Butler’s Pond ............................................................... 10 Pre colonial era -Butler’s Pond and Native Americans ............................................................ 10 The colonial period ................................................................................................................... 11 Post Independence .................................................................................................................... 12 Butler’s Pond in Public and Private Ownership ....................................................................... 13 Settlement History around Butler’s Pond 1857 – 1907 ............................................................ 15 Map 2 - Area surrounding Butler’s Pond 1857 .................................................................... 15 Photograph 1 - Butler’s Pond 1880....................................................................................... 16 Map 3 - Area surrounding Butler’s Pond 1888..................................................................... 17 Map 4 Area surrounding Butler’s Pond 1897 ....................................................................... 18 Map 5 Area surrounding Butlers Pond 1907 ........................................................................ 19 Chapter 3....................................................................................................................................... 20 The Social and Educational Importance of Butler’s Pond............................................................ 20 Skating on Thin Ice................................................................................................................... 20 The “Battle” of Butler’s Pond................................................................................................... 21 Photograph 2 - Butler’s Pond 1938....................................................................................... 21 Opening Skirmishes and an Uneasy Peace ........................................................................... 21 Maintaining Peace................................................................................................................. 23 Hostilities Resumed .............................................................................................................. 24 An offer they couldn’t refuse? .............................................................................................. 26 Photograph 3 Butler’s Pond .................................................................................................. 27 Peace Reigns ......................................................................................................................... 28 Flora and fauna ......................................................................................................................... 28 Chapter 4....................................................................................................................................... 30 Efforts to Clean, Maintain and Preserve the Natural Habitat ....................................................... 30 Health Warning......................................................................................................................... 30 Fighting Against Nature............................................................................................................ 30 Under Private Ownership.......................................................................................................... 30 Bequeathed to the City.............................................................................................................. 31 First Assessment of the State of the Pond................................................................................. 31 The Butler’s Pond restoration project ....................................................................................... 32 Into the long grass..................................................................................................................... 35 School lessons learned? ............................................................................................................ 36 Figure 1 A sketch of the stonework as designed by Waterflowers ................................. 37 Judgement Days ........................................................................................................................ 39 (i) Sweetheart of the rodeo?.................................................................................................. 39 (ii) Don’t get aerated............................................................................................................. 40 Sage advice ............................................................................................................................... 42 Sources of support and analysis................................................................................................ 44 Concluding thoughts ..................................................................................................................... 45 Appendix 1 Full text of Newspaper articles relating to this report................................... 46
4 Appendix 2 Memo from Professor Twining re Future action .......................................... 54 Appendix 3 Photographs of relevant maps....................................................................... 56 Appendix 4 Deed of ownership of The Pond - Peter Butler 11/1/1871............................ 59 Appendix 5 Surveyors Plan 1890 ..................................................................................... 60 Appendix 6 Extract from Black’s Creek Newsletter August 14th 2000 ........................... 61 Appendix 7 DPW response to W Aylward critique of actions re use of Rodeo............... 63 Appendix 8 Suggestions from Butler Pond Neighbours................................................... 64 Appendix 9 Sketch of the Organic Filter (part of the pond restoration plan)................... 65 Links ............................................................................................................................................. 66
One of the things that attracted us to live in Merrymount Road was the little pond right next door. However, after living here for a couple of years, we were a little concerned about its bedraggled, overgrown look. We had heard a story about the son of John Adams drowning in the pool and, with its proximity to the Quincy Homestead, we often wondered what other stories it could tell. When Councillor Doug Gutro invited residents to a meeting to discuss setting up “a Friends of Butlers Pond” group, we were intrigued and went along. During the discussion of the need for a group and the action we might take, I felt it important to look back before looking forward, so that the successes, failures and lessons of the past would not be overlooked. I also felt that the process of trying to gain support for an Association might be assisted if people understood the history and importance of the pond to past and present residents of the area. My experience of community development on three continents should have warned me of the direct relationship between making a suggestion and being landed with the task. Quincy proved to be no exception to that rule; so I embarked, happily enough, on this unlikely endeavour. To my surprise it has been a short, but fascinating journey; taking me to offices and corners of the community I would never have otherwise gone. The product which I set before you is very much a work in progress and I am happy to edit it, add anecdote or further evidence, if and when it is provided. The text combines the work of many different people, which is why this is more a compilation that an original work. Please send any contributions to either of my email addresses (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org ). My thanks go to all the very many people who have listened, long suffering, to my tortuous explanation of why I was doing this research and for being so supportive and interested. I was particularly impressed by the enthusiastic help I got in (almost) every city and county administrative office. On those rare occasions where the response was less effusive, it was generally in situations of overworked, stressed officialdom. I have tried to make sure I listed you all in the next section of this report. Any omissions are attributable to age and the inability to multitask and not to sampling the water in the pond, as was suggested.
Fellow members of the friend of Butlers Pond and, in particular, Wendy Cheng Ed Fitzgerald, Barbara Good and other staff and volunteers at Quincy Historical Society Councilor Doug Gutro Mary Clark, Linda Beeler, Jessie Thuma and all other colleagues on the second floor of Thomas Crane Public Library John and Shirley Walsh Nancy Gavaza, John Sullivan and colleagues at the Engineering Section, Quincy Public Works Department Professor Jonathon Twining, Eastern Nazarene College Mary Maher, George Wright, Jay Sanphy, Anne Marie Tieso and all other Staff at Norfolk Registry of Deeds Staff at the Probate Court in Canton Donna Halper Richard Joyce, Association of friends of Wollaston Beach Cheryl Casey, Science Department Chairperson, Woodward School Al Petras, Docent Quincy Homestead Rebecca Dinsmore, Docent and Gardner Quincy Homestead Marion Fantucchio and colleagues at the Assessors Department Quincy City Hall Helen Murphy, Mayor’s Office Jim Phelan, Quincy Central Middle School Harold Crowley, Retired Teachers Association Rosemary Nolan, formerly of the Quincy Department of Public Works Michael Moriarty, Former Resident Merrymount Road Steven W Buccella Junior and daughter Patricia Resident and Former Resident Merrymount Road Department of Public Works Building section Rosemary Nolan formerly of Quincy Public Works Department Raymond Whitehouse Quynh Chi Nguyen Massachusetts Historical Society
Acronyms and abbreviations used in this report
DPW Department of Public Works QJCC Quincy Jewish Community Centre DEP Department of Environmental Protection FWB Friends of Wollaston Beach
Timeline of the Ownership of Butler's Pond and Significant Historical Events
The formation of Butler’s Pond
The most likely theory to explain the existence of Butler’s Pond, was provided by students at Woodward School. “The formation of Butler’s Pond is greatly attributed to the southward movement of glaciers
from New England. These glaciers, during the Ice Age two million years ago, first came from Labrador. These glaciers then moved from Labrador, to northern New England and into Massachusetts. They cut into the land, forming six topographical divisions. This region was later known as Massachusetts. Quincy falls into the coastal plain topographical region. The ice sheets that travelled over Massachusetts had an estimated thickness of 8,000 ft. and a height much higher than any man made construction. The ice sculpted the landscape of Massachusetts, changing how it was to be utilized and constructed. This ice melted anywhere from 1500 to 1200 years ago, but still the traces of its path remain. The land structures that the ice formed are ground moraines, terminal moraines and drumlins. Glacier movement in the Quincy area has left other reminders of the glacier's effects on the development of the city's landscape. The glaciers were credited with all formations of kettle holes, remains of eskers and outwash plains; and the formation of slate and granite. One of the biggest remnants of the Ice Age's effect on Quincy was the formation of beaches, marshes, solid land and many small bodies of water (including Butler’s Pond).”2 However, as one expert in the field pointed out, this explanation is still a theory and requires proof to be asserted as fact. One possible, but less likely explanation is that it was man-made. Around the turn of the 20th Century, ponds were being dug for the purposes of producing ice. Both Sailor’s Home Pond and Manet Lake (now dried up) are good examples of this. However, during research of Butler’s pond no mention of ice production could be found in any documents. On the other hand, there does not appear to be much written mention of the pond before the 1850’s. The sole exception, uncovered during the research by Ed Fitzgerald3 and also printed on the cover of this report, comes from Thomas Morton from his “new English Canaan” circa 1630. “At Mare-mount there was a water (by me discovered) that is most excellent for the cure of Melancholly probatum4” Whilst we cannot be certain Morton was talking about what we now know as Butler’s Pond, there is some evidence to suggest that he was. The term “water” in old English has many meanings but was commonly used to describe a lake (as in Derwentwater, Ullswater and Wastwater in the Lake District, for example) or pond. There is no evidence of any other standing water around Mare-Mount and according to Charles Francis Adams, editing Morton in the 1880’s, “there is no natural spring of any kind around Mount Wollaston”.
From a report on Butler’s Pond by two former students who attended the Woodward School’s Environmental Science Class in 1996, Jackie O’Meara and Melinda Palmer 3 Ed Fitzgerald is the Director of the Quincy Historical Society 4 Probatum is Latin for tested or certified
History of Settlement and Ownership of Butler’s Pond
Pre colonial era -Butler’s Pond and Native Americans
“Before European colonization, the area around and north and south of present-day Boston was home to the Massachusett Indian tribe. It’s not clear, to me at least, how much is understood about their social and political organization. There seem to have been several separate, rather independent groups, each in its own locality and each with its own local leader or sachem, but holding some loyalty to a more powerful, to some degree overarching sachem. It’s generally agreed that the name “Massachusett” means “people of the great hill” and that it is a reference to Great Blue Hill in the Blue Hills. The name might suggest that there was some kind of priority, at least in time, to the group of Massachusett who occupied present-day Quincy, since they spent their cold seasons at the foot of Great Blue and the warm seasons here at the coastline. They were not the dominant group among the Massachusett in the immediate pre-colonial period. A group to the north of present-day Boston possessed the great sachem. However, there are indications that, following this great sachem’s death, Chickataubut—the sachem of our local group—rose in prominence. The local Massachusett followed their traditional seasonal pattern, wintering at the base of Great Blue and spending the warm months at the shore of Quincy Bay, certainly for decades, probably for centuries and perhaps more, before the European arrival. They used the flat coastal land for planting (called “Massachusetts Fields” by the early Europeans). Their crops were the staples of Native American diet: the “Three Sisters”—maize, squash, and beans. They fished and shell-fished, and these also made an important part of their diet. Their main coastal settlement and sachem seat was in the present Merrymount neighborhood; their name for the locations was Passonagessit. So their settlement was less than a half-mile from Butler’s Pond. Since the Massachusett needed to take advantage of any source of food and given their experience as fishermen and clammers in the bay, it would seem likely that they exploited any edible animal life in the pond, just as the must have done with Black’s Creek. If the water in the pond at the time was fresh water, it may also have been a source of drinking water. In any event, with the proximity of the pond to Passonagessit, the pond must have figured in their regular experience. I’m not aware of any artifacts found in the vicinity of the pond. But the very early European occupation and development of the area around the pond may have worked against this. The epidemic of 1617, undoubtedly caused by early European contact, devastated the Indians from Maine to Cape Cod, killing somewhere between 80 or 90% of the people. The local Massachusett were devastated. As happened in great plagues and famines in Europe, there was a breakdown of habits and standards, and there were not enough living to bury the dead. The Massachusett abandoned Passonagessit and re-established their settlement at
11 Moswetusset on the north shore of Quincy Bay. Thomas Morton, who established his Merry Mount trading post here in 1625, wrote that the Passonagessit area was still strewn with skeletons. These could easily have extended to the area of the pond. In 1633 another epidemic, this time identified as smallpox, hit the Indians and killed the sachem Chickataubut. My sense is that from that time forward the presence of the Massachusett inside the boundaries of present-day Quincy declined rapidly. Chickataubut’s son Wampatuck enjoys success against other tribes in the 1650s, but I don’t think he was based in this immediate location. And in 1660 he signed a deed reaffirming all the initial transfers of land here to English settlers. Following King Philip’s war in 1675-6 there’s a great purge of New England Indians, and those remaining in this area are Christianized Indians in a village at Ponkapoag in present day Canton. However there are people in Canton today who proclaim descent from the original Massachusett. Finally, it should just be pointed out that, while the historical record is scant, there is good archeological evidence that people have lived in the vicinity of the pond for thousands of years. Stone tools from the archaic period—at least 1700 years ago—have been found in the general area. A very complete burial site was found on Gull Island, behind the Caddy Memorial on Wollaston Beach, in the 1990s. As far as I know, there’s no reason not to think that people have been here since a few centuries after the receding of the glacier.”5 The colonial period “In the fall of 1625, Capt. Richard Wollaston left a small group of indentured workmen in charge of his lieutenant to spend the winter here. Although he immediately left for England, the area that is today’s Quincy (expect for North Quincy), Braintree, Randolph, and Holbrook was named for him, “Mount Wollaston*. The next spring, an adventurer by the name of Thomas Morton came in, took over the small group of men and established a trading post that is famous today for his colourful escapades here. The colonies from Plymouth to Salem tolerated Mr Morton until they discovered that he had traded to the Indians, along with liquor, more firearms than the colonists possessed collectively. He was then sent back to England and his trading post ended and the men dispersed. Mount Wollaston was an uninhabited area when it was annexed by the town of Boston in 1634. Although only four years old, Boston was already running out of land on the Shawmut Peninsula. This was a time when everyone had to have at least a subsistence farm. To encourage people to come here, the Town of Boston offered land grants, the opportunity to acquire land at favourable terms. A few large grants were given to Coddington, Quincy and others, but it was mainly on the basis of four acres per household per head in the household.”6 A country estate totalling four hundred acres (incorporating the pond) was owned by “Edmund Quincy I and William Coddington from December, 1665. This was given to the men from the City of Boston. It was divided equally between them and they each utilized the property in the
An article prepared for this history by Ed Fitzgerald of the Quincy Historical Society From “A Capsule History of Quincy” by H Hobart Holly, one of chapters in Quincy’s Legacy Topics in Four Centuries of Massachusetts History by H Hobart Holly and others printed by the Quincy Historical Society copyright 1998
12 same manner. North of Furnace Brook, Coddington built a house, which once stood where the MBTA Bus Station now stands. Edmund Quincy I, South of Furnace Brook, built a house, which is now the site of the Quincy Central Middle School. A granite monument stands at the school, which marks the previous site of the house. Then in 1686, Edmund Quincy II built another house and Edmund Quincy III, in 1706, also built a house approximately 300 ft. away from Edmund Quincy II's house. The estate was given down to many generations of the Quincy family, despite Edmund Quincy I and Edmund Quincy II, having several daughters. The two sons of Edmund Quincy III, Edmund IV and Josiah Quincy, divided their family estate. Josiah Quincy's home still stands in North Quincy today. Edmund IV held the land and family residence around Furnace Brook last. The house became a forfeiture in 1755 when financial problems arose. Edmund still occupied the house, even though the The Best Laid Pipes* deed was in the name of Edward Jackson, his brother-in-law. Many people believe that at one time Butler’s Edmund's daughter, Dorothy Quincy, Pond was connected to the brook in some way. would soon come to marry John Ho Hobart Holly et al provided a hint** - “A Hancock. Hancock was an important low weir was built just below the house to form figure in the Continental Congress, a shallow fresh water pond some 30 feet wide participated in the drafting of the and extending up to where the road is today. Declaration of Independence, and was This canal may have had some irrigation active and prominent in Boston society. function but its purpose was mainly Dorothy also was related to Oliver decorative” During the research for this report Wendall Holmes, her great-grandchild. there was an opportunity to interview the last private owner of the pond, John W Walsh Many horticultural improvements were Junior, full of vim and vigour at the ripe old age made by Edmund IV. These of 97 . He remembers that the pond was improvements included the widening connected to the brook by a pipe. The purpose and damming of Furnace Brook which of the pipe was both to allow water into the formed a reflecting pool and on the pond to flush it out, and in turn to allow any brook, a bridge was built and Silver overflow to escape. At some point in the first Eels were put into the brook. Although half of the 20th Century that pipe collapsed and Furnace Brook was widened, it was the city authorities chose to fill in the channel narrowed to 12 feet in the early 1930's. rather than replace it. Anecdotal evidence suggest that much of the flooding, experienced by home owners living close the pond, might Post Independence have been avoided if a new pipe had been relaid. The homestead and surrounding area _______ went through several short periods of (*) With apologies to Robert Burns and “Ode to a ownerships and then in 1769, the Mouse” Alleyne family acquired the property. (**) From “The Quincys’ Homes in Quincy” by H Hobart From 1788 to 1825, the property was Holly, one of chapters in Quincy’s Legacy Topics in Four owned by Moses Black, a prominent Centuries of Massachusetts History by H Hobart Holly and others printed by the Quincy Historical Society merchant from Boston. During his copyright 1998 ownership, the creek was renamed Black's Creek. The homestead and the surrounding area went to Daniel Greenleaf, who was affiliated with Greenleaf Land
13 Associates. Daniel left the property to Ebenezer Woodward, a prominent Quincy doctor. Ebenezer married Daniel's daughter, Mary Roe Greenleaf. Mr. Woodward never took up residence there. It was leased to Peter Butler, the namesake of Butler’s Pond and Butler Road. Peter Butler owned a hardware store and had a home on Hancock Street. His wife, Sigorney, held much land and worked as a lawyer for Harvard College.7 In the 1880's the four lots that encompassed the homestead were bought by Rev. Daniel M. Wilson. Then, the homestead was sold to the Massachusetts Society of Colonial Dames of America in 1904. In 1904, through the Metropolitan District Commission, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased the property. The Commonwealth then leased the property to the Society for 99 years.”8 Butler’s Pond in Public and Private Ownership The Pond and part of its surrounding lands passed from Ebenezer Woodward to the Quincy town authorities in the middle of the 19th Century. Most people assumed that, once this happened, Peter Butler could never have owned the pond. However, they also wondered why both the road and the pool were named after him, if he was never the property owner. A search of the deeds to Butler’s Pond reveals the answer. On the November 1st 1871, a substantial area of land, including the pond, was bought from the town by Peter Butler, for a sum of 5,100 dollars 64 cents9. This land is probably the same as that shown in Map 310 (Butler’s Pond in 1888) in this report. On July 26th 1900, a plot of land, including the pond, passed from the Butler family 11 to Eugene O’Connor.12 A present day member of the family informed us that O’Connor was the foreman of the Butler Farm13. The story, in the family, was that the land passed to Eugene in lieu of debts incurred by the Butler household. On the death of Eugene O’Conner, in 1914, the land went to his nephews, John W Walsh (senior) and Michael T Walsh., in equal half shares.14 During the time that John W Walsh Senior lived on the property, Michael passed over all claim to the pond, but not in a form that was, in legal terms, adequately recorded. When Michael died, his half share passed to the Elizabeth M Walsh Trust; a body set up to handle his estate. John W Walsh Senior passed away in 1946; his half share of the property going to John W Walsh Junior. John junior was born in 1912, within the Walsh’s home, close to the banks of Butler’s pond, some
The only description of Peter Butler that could be found was one from the book by Daniel Munroe Wilson “ It was during the thirty years or more the town authorities held the estate in trust that it was occupied by the Hon. Peter Butler. At first a refuge in summer from the city’s heat and noise, it soon became his permanent residence. He loved the place for its idyllic beauty and for its charming history. He saturated himself with its traditions. All its antiquities he searched out and cherished, and every noble or humorous story he enjoyed and related with keen relish. Again, as in the old days, life brimmed and flourished the mansion, the farm kept up and the great barn stocked with a large herd of fine cattle. Natural, it seemed for Mr. Butler, when released from affairs in the city and public duties, to enter the life “of a sound and honest rustic squire”. 8 From a report on Butler’s Pond by two former students who attended the Woodward School’s Environmental Science Class in 1996, Jackie O’Meara and Melinda Palmer 9 From deeds held at Norfolk Registry of Deeds, Book 420 page 174 dated November 1st 1871. A scanned copy of this deed is included as appendix 10 See page 17 11 The path within the family seems to have been that Peter Butler left the land to Sigourney Butler who bequeathed to Isabel Butler in her will. In turn Isabel Butler transferred the deed to Eugene O’Connor 12 From deeds held at Norfolk Registry of Deeds, Book 876 pages 166/7 dated 26th July 1900 13 Form an interview with John W Walsh junior 14 Following a legal requirement of the time the land temporary passed to William T Donovan (Norfolk Registry of Deeds Book 1558 page 515) on the 14th of May 1914) and then to the Walsh Brothers on the same day (Norfolk Registry of Deeds Book 1491 pages 18/20)
14 three years after the building was first constructed. He left home after he was first married, but came back to live with his father when John Senior’s health declined in the 1940s. Once both brothers had gone, John Walsh junior was unaware of the legal technicalities that were, in fact, inhibiting his authority to act independently on the pond. He offered the property to the city in 1954 (see chapter 3) in all good faith. However, because it was not acted upon at that time, the obstacles to transferring the title remained hidden. When John Walsh offered the pond a second time to the authorities in 1984, the legal complexities became apparent. Action was taken to ensure that all the land rights were in John W Walsh junior’s name, but it was only in 1987 that he legally inherited all the land. These legal complications are thought to have inhibited the city authorities from taking possession of the pond in the 1980’s. Indeed, it was only in the 7th of October 1993 that the pond officially passed over to city ownership, under the direction of the Conservation Commission.
Figure 1 John W Walsh Junior October 2009
15 Settlement History around Butler’s Pond 1857 – 1907
Map 2 - Area surrounding Butler’s Pond 1857 15
At this point, the only settlement around the pond appears to be the Quincy homestead and a neighbouring building. The existence of Wharf Street and the fact that it crossed the pond was a revelation to those who know the history of the area.16 The street may have been linked to a wharf that was situated on what was then Black Creek. One faint possibility may be a link to a right of way granted to a tenant, Nathanial Spear who ran a grist mill on the creek in t 1720. “Also the privilege in the private way leading from the country Road17 unto the same as it now lyeth and is used by the said Quincy and others for a passage to the landing place and water side.”18 This is in doubt because there was another right of way heading north from the property that this may have referred to.
From the Warren S Parker Historical Collection (courtesy of Thomas Library Quincy) There is some anecdotal evidence in old street names to suggest that there might have been as least one causeway in the area. Assuming such a causeway would have been built slightly off the ground to avoid marshy ground it is conceivable that Wharf Street might have been of similar design. 17 At that time Adams Road 18 From the handwritten notes of Warren S Parker Building Inspector in Quincy in the period 1890-1930 (courtesy of the Thomas Crane Public Library Quincy)
Photograph 1 - Butler’s Pond 1880
“This view shows the Butler’s Pond area in Quincy as it looked in 1880, looking much more expansive than today. “:Taken from the vicinity of the Dorothy Quincy House, the picture shows the Quincy Homestead, right, built in 1685. The homestead was torn down about 1890 for the second high school of Quincy, now Central Junior High School. In the background from centre to right are the Davenport home, Baxter homer and Miss Wright’s private school”19
This photograph appeared in the Quincy Patriot Ledger on the 14th of February 1956
Map 3 - Area surrounding Butler’s Pond 1888
By 1888, properties have appeared on Greenleaf Street, relatively close to the lake. However, none of them encroach the pond surface. Wharf Street has vanished into the ether.
From the Newport Country Map (courtesy of Quincy Historical Society)
Map 4 Area surrounding Butler’s Pond 1897
The transformation in the number of dwellings and plots around the pond, since 1888, is dramatic. The school has appeared on the east side of Hancock Street for the first time. It can clearly be seen that the pond was extensive on both sides of Merry mount Road. A great number of plots of land have been allocated but not all have been built upon, by the date of this map. It also reveals the plots on Greenleaf Street that had land under water. These plots are no longer under water by the time of a surveyor’s plan of 194321
See appendix 3 map 1 surveyors map 1943
Map 5 Area surrounding Butlers Pond 1907
By this time that this map was drawn, the view is getting closer to that of today (although some plots have still to be built upon). The main difference is that the appearance of the new school on the site of the original on Hancock Street and Furnace Brook Parkway is under construction.
The Social and Educational Importance of Butler’s Pond
At the time of writing this short history, little is known about the role that the Pond played in the lives of Native Americans up until the 1600’s, or indeed in the lives of early settlers or the leaders of the emerging nation. One can assume that the pond was not necessarily used as a source of potable water, given the proximity of the freshwater brook. However its wild fowl and fish may have been an important source of supplementary protein. There are signs that, by the time the new Republic was established, it performed a role in a winter as a skating venue. An effort was made to confirm this through diaries and letters of the 18th and 19th Century but with little success to date. In 1955, the city historian William C Edwards “pointed out that it (the pond) had been named for Peter Butler, who in the 1870’s provided a skating area by damming Furnace Brook and flooding the pond. He expressed the belief that probably Dorothy Quincy once skated there.”22 Skating on Thin Ice William C Edwards assertion that Dorothy Quincy may once have skated on the pond, kindled the long held stories that either John Hancock or John Adams lost a son on Butler’s Pond, either by drowning or from a skating accident. Ed Fitzgerald feels that this story is most likely apocryphal and has evidence to back up his assertion. “The various traditional stories about events in the lives of John Hancock and Dorothy Quincy Hancock taking place in and around the Quincy Homestead are at variance with the history of ownership of that property. Historians agree that Edmund Quincy IV—Dorothy’s father—lost control of the homestead in 1763 and that in 1769 it was sold to the Alleyne family. Historians also agree that Edmund and his family never lived full-time in the homestead. Even so devoted a partisan of Quincy’s great families as Daniel Munro Wilson concedes that Dorothy was born in Boston and that the family were at best visitors or part-time residents of the Homestead. In any event since the courtship, marriage and married life of John Hancock and Dorothy Quincy Hancock took place after 1769 it is unlikely, bordering on impossible, that any of these events took place in the Homestead. Nor is there a single piece of positive documentary evidence to suggest otherwise. The persistence of stories that the Homestead was a home for the Hancocks results from a combination of wishful thinking, love of a good story, and confusion deriving from the Homestead’s nickname as “the Dorothy Q House.” Just as there were several Edmund Quincys, there were several Dorothy Quincys. And the name “Dorothy Q House” at first probably referred not to Dorothy Quincy Hancock but to her aunt, Dorothy Quincy Jackson (1709-62). This Dorothy was the subject of a very popular 19th century poem by her descendant Oliver Wendell Holmes, entitled “Dorothy Q.” In 1784 John Hancock’s 10-year-old son, John George Washington Hancock, did die as a result of a skating accident. Various historians describe the accident as happening in Boston or in Milton. None place it at Butler’s Pond or even in this town. And since the Homestead had long
Source: Quincy Patriot Ledger 12/20/55
21 since passed out of the Quincy family’s hands, it again seems extremely unlikely that the accident happened here. None of John Adams’ children died as a result of a skating accident. Any story results from confusion between the two Johns—Adams and Hancock—and perhaps confusion about the death of Adams’ son Charles—as a young man of about 30, not a boy—who probably died from complications of alcoholism.” The “Battle” of Butler’s Pond From 1939 to May 1956 an extraordinary struggle took place over the future of Butler’s Pond.
Photograph 2 - Butler’s Pond 1938
Opening Skirmishes and an Uneasy Peace
On the 29th of March 1939, a short article appeared in the Patriot Ledger24 reporting on a schools committee meeting the night before. At that meeting, the School committee stated that extra recreational space was needed and that the area of the pond should be taken and converted into a playground. In reply, local residents around Butler’s Pond claimed that the school already had
This photograph appeared in the Patriot Ledger on the 4th of November 1938 The caption read “Water now but it may be land soon. Here is Butler’s Pond in the rear of the Central Junior High school. There will be a hearing Monday night before the city council on the proposal to take the property and make it into a playground for the youngsters at the school” 24 See full text of the article in question in appendix 1 of this report
22 enough recreational space, that there was a risk that the area would create a nuisance and that, at $16,000 it was too costly. The Council did not act on the school’s appeal to take over the land and, although the school insisted they needed more space, they did agree to cooperate to find some area other than the Butler’s Pond.
Shelter from the storm The issue of filling in the pond for a playground was not the only threat that the pond faced in the 1930’s. In 1938 the Great New England Hurricane struck Massachusetts. “The eye of the storm followed the Connecticut River north into Massachusetts, where the winds and flooding killed 99 people. In Springfield, the river rose to 6 to 10 feet (3 m) above flood stage, causing significant damage. Up to six inches (152 mm) of rain fell across western Massachusetts, which combined with over four inches (102 mm) that had fallen a few days earlier produced widespread flooding.. …. The Blue Hills Observatory registered sustained winds of 121 mph (195 km/h) and a peak gust of 186 mph (299 km/h).The New Haven Railroad from New Haven to Providence was particularly hard hit, as countless bridges along the Shore Line were destroyed or flooded, severing rail connections to badly affected cities (such as Westerly) in the process.”* There was an eyewitness present when the hurricane struck Butler’s Pond “I was standing by my home near the edge of the pond when I heard a sound like an express train and suddenly all the tops of the trees bordering the pond were sheared off and the tiles were flying through the air like pieces of paper. It was at that point that I could imagine by head being sliced off and sought shelter inside.” **
________________ (*) Source Wikipedia (**) Source – an interview with John W Walsh Junior
In the period after 1939, an agreement was made between the Central Junior High School and the Quincy Jewish Community Centre. (QJCC) over playground space. 25 In 1944, Reuben Grossman had taken possession of the deeds to the Life Saving Merit Badge (I) land and building at 10 Merrymount Road (on the “Scene: “Butler’s Pond, Quincy, Mass. Two youngsters, aged north side) which had 16 years, playing on the frozen surface. The ice breaks and previously housed the they plunge into the icy water, screaming loudly fin their terror. telephone exchange. Grossman Enter unidentified boy of eleven, running to see what is the offered this building as the site matter. He calls out something encouraging, w. carefully out for Quincy Jewish Community onto the ice, still more carefully where it begins to get thin, and Centre in that same year, finally reaches a place where he can stretch out his hands to before finally passing over the help the terrified children, when he too breaks through and falls deeds in May 1947.26 Later in into the water, screaming out for help now for all three of them. 1944, the QJCC were bequeathed pieces of land from Enter, running, Cullie Peterson*, with two younger boys, Ralph Harold, Jacob and Albert Slate, Allan and Gilbert Falbett, all scouts. They are carrying a and from Charles Caradonna, ladder. Peterson shoves the ladder towards hole in the ice on the south side of where the three other boys are struggling, then slides cautiously Merrymount Road. A along after it. But it is too late for ordinary erasures. One of the playground was constructed on children in the water is near death. So Peterson throws off his part of that site. In the period coat and dives in, seizes the boy and, clinging with one hand to up to 1954, the Quincy Jewish the edge of the ice, hold on until, the other scouts can slide Community Centre lent the use along with the help of the ladder and relieve him of his burden. of that playground to the Following the same method the three older boys save the other school. However, over time, it two in the water.”** was proving inadequate and a ____________ little unsafe. This seems to (*) The last private owner of the pond, John W Walsh Junior, remembers have contributed to the Cullie Peterson well. He was a few years older than John and lived in the school’s decision to make neighbourhood, possibly Putman Street. Because of the age difference they were not close friends but John remembers him as a “livewire”…a another attempt to seize the euphuism we suspect for an outgoing and risk tacking individual. pond. Residents who lived in (**)From an article on Boy Scouts printed in the New York Times January the area in the 1960's, 8th 1922 Copyright ©The New York Times remember the Quincy Jewish Community Centre having a playground in the area on the south side of the road. The Centre is remembered fondly by many for its humanitarian, social and recreational activities.
“I am very aware of its (the Quincy Jewish Community Centre’s) long and important history, and its closing was one of the signs that the Jewish community's demographics were gradually shifting. The original JCC opened at 139 School Street, which was where Hadasah and other Jewish groups had their meetings in the early 1920s. The new and larger JCC on Merrymount was formally dedicated in October of 1944, as I am sure you know, and at one time had as many as 1200 members. Its opening and its larger location were a result, in large part, to the work of the Grossman family, which spearheaded the drive to get a larger building and donated the necessary funds to make it happen. In fact, it was family patriarch Louis Grossman, by that time the oldest Jewish resident of Quincy (he was 80, if I recall correctly) who cut the ceremonial ribbon, and one of his sons, Reuben, was the new JCC's first president. But by 1972, the center was only being used sporadically, and the decline in the number of Jews in Quincy was also the reason for the closing of the first Jewish congregation in the city, Cong. Ahavas Achim.” Source an email from Donna Halper 26 Source – Norfolk Registry of Deeds Book 2679 [pages 191/192)
24 The disappearing Pond After Merrymount Road was built, almost one third of the pond remained on the south side of the road; the two sides connected through a culvert under the road. In 1888, the land belonging to Peter Butler reached beyond the pond to Greenleaf Street. However, under the terms of the will, not all of the land that the pond covered on the south side was bequeathed to Eugene O’Connor. New plots had appeared on Greenleaf Street containing about one third of the land area of the pond south of Merrymount.27 The owners of these plots are the first to fill in part of the pond. A city map of 1933 clearly shows the entirety of the pond there on the south side of the road. An undated surveyors plan, stored under the date 1943 (see appendix 3) shows that the southernmost tip of the pond has already gone. A collation of drainage maps in recent years by the Department of Public Works (DPW) suggests that all the land on the south side was filled in during 1937/8. However, residents who lived in Merrymount Road in the 1950’s remember that there was still a pond on both sides of the street, at least until the late fifties. The conclusion, therefore, is that it was the owners of the plots with standing water on them, other than the Walsh’s, who took action to fill in the pond on their land in the 1930’s. In November 1941, John W Walsh and Michael T Walsh sold the land and remaining part of the pond south of Merrymount Road to Vito Caradonna. Vito died soon after he took possession of the land and the plot passed to the Jewish Community Centre.28 Sometime between 1957 and the early sixties, the remainder of the pond on the south side was filled in.
After some 15 years, the question of filling in the pond burst into the public domain again. The Patriot ledger on the 10th of October 1953 had reported that, in that same year, “The School Committees on June 18 went on record unanimously in favour of filling in the Pond so that Central Junior students may be provided with more adequate playground facilities, The Planning Board on July 23 voted to recommend that the City take the land by eminent domain for school playground purposes.” On the 4th of May 1954, a two and a half hour hearing was held by the city council to reconsider the filling in of the pond. It appears from press reports that, whilst both sides of the debate had taken time to prepare for the meeting; the school was much in a much better state of readiness for battle than in 1939. Amidst claims of the use of pressure groups, the proponents were able to gather the names of 1,750 local people who were in favour of taking the pond with just 373 registered in favour of conservation. By the end of that first meeting a further 21 people had registered in favour of the infill while just 13 joined the group in opposition. The arguments pro the playground were developed slightly from ’39. John W Walsh junior29, speaking in opposition to the pond’s removal urged the council to “reject the petition on grounds of the pond’s aesthetic value, it’s safety for children, and the high cost of filling it to make it playground. Walsh said the eventual cost of the project would be between 40 and 50 thousand dollars. He said the pond was only 3 or 4 feet deep and in the summertime it provided temperatures 10 degrees cooler than on Hancock Street. He cast doubt on the value of proponents’ petitions to the Council,
See the relevant surveyors plan in Appendices 3, 5 See Maps 1 and 3 in Appendix 3 29 The Patriot Ledger reported on the 10th of September 1953 that “The taking order, which does not include an appropriation order, recommends paying the Walsh’s $875 for damages.”
25 recalling that he had never seen “such an effort to enlist school children on school time” in support of a PTA-sponsored project. He said he deplored the use of a pressure group “to force its will on public officials.” Walsh said he also regretted the fact that the proponents had never given him a chance to be heard on the proposal before last night’s public hearing.”30 Other voices in opposition suggested that the $36,000 estimated cost to fill in the pond was an unnecessary expenditure and that efforts should be made to improve the playground in the Jewish Community Centre, that was being used at the time by school students. They felt that a playground in a residential neighbourhood was not necessarily an asset and that the pond was a useful area for teaching hockey. Furthermore, to lose the pond to avoid a walk to Merrymount Park was an example of where people “sometimes do too much for the children.”31 It was also argued that the pond was of permanent benefit, whereas a playground would provide benefits for just 3 months a year. The proponents of taking the pond led by Edwin M Kaufman, chairman of the Butler’s Pond Committee of the Central Junior High School PTA responded by declaring that “he could find no historical significance to the pond; that he could not conceive anyone thinking it beautiful; and that it was not 3 feet deep but 10 feet deep, sufficient to cause drowning. Explaining the method by which petitions advocating the filling of the pond were circulated, Kaufman said it was done partly by students of the school following approval of the idea by the Student Council. He said that every child was informed of the nature of the project and that much of the campaigning was done by adult members of the PTAs in the city. In a later summary of the arguments as he saw them, for an against the land-taking Kaufman said that if the opponents stated the truth ; 90 per cent of them would say their basic objection was the fact that they didn’t want a playground in their vicinity with the accompanying noise of children. …He Tough exchanges defended the role of “civic-minded citizens” who What caught the attention of journalists were bringing in a legitimate point of view before from the Patriot ledger were the depth of the council but as a result were charged with having feelings on both sides.. They illustrated a pressure group.”32 this by quoting this short sharp exchange between the spokespeople for each side. At The school principle, Harry Beede, claimed that a meeting on the 20th of May 1955, ‘ “May children needed a play space, especially during I finish?” asked Mr Kaufman of Mr recesses. Current facilities at the Jewish Community Fagerland when the latter interrupted the centre caused almost daily injuries. Whatever the former, future of the current school building and plans for “I wish you would” said Mr Fagerland. other schools elsewhere in the area, he felt there “If I am boring you, I am sorry” said Mr would always be a need for a school in the current Kaufman’’’* locale. The extent to which children used the pond ______________ for skating was also challenged, partly because of (*) Source - an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger stones that were regularly thrown onto the frozen 12/21/55 surface and also because a number of children had fallen through the ice (but survived). Other informants reiterated the opinion that the pond was not a beauty spot and students addressed the meeting stating they wanted the playground to be used for generations of pupils to come. They claimed that the value of the pond would be much greater as a playground and that “in a
Source an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 11/5/54 The full text of this article also appears in Appendix 2 to this report 31 Source - an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 11/5/54 32 Source - an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 11/5/54
26 telephone canvass of 40 residents in the immediate area he could find opposition from only two persons. “Are we interested in the welfare of 750 children or in a catch basin” he asked.”33 Other arguments included the plan that the playground could be used in the holiday periods for local children and that the school athletic programme suffered from a lack of a play area and showers on site. A playground could be used for a whole host of different sporting activities. One resident, supporting the plan to fill in the pond, stated “the neighbours began to propagandize me that it was a beautiful pond.”…”I fail to see that it is a beautiful pond.” 34 He said. He also went on to claim pressure tactics had been applied by a neighbour “who knuckled me into my living room and pushed this thing down my throat.” 35
Life Saving Merit Badge (II) On the 10th of September 1953, the Patriot Ledger reported on an interesting argument against filling in the pond. City Manager William J. Deegan Jr. recommended against filling in the pond as the estimated cost would be around $30,000 and also because he believes “the public interest can best be served and recreation for Central Junior High School pupils better provided if Butler’s Pond is taken by the City and subsequently beautified and cleaned up and used for water safety training for the students.” He went on to say that a water safety training program “will contribute more to the area and to the junior high school that the conversion of the pond to a playground.”
An offer they couldn’t refuse?
Two arguments seem to have finally scuppered the plans to take over the pond. The first was the question of the investment required in the light of the uncertain long term future of the school. Despite the school claiming that the was good for another 25 years, Donald H Blatt claimed that he had “no knowledge of exactly when the Central Junior High School will be abandoned, but it seems to me that the investment that would have to be made in Butler’s Pond could not be supported if the school is to go out of operation in the next ten years, and I have been advised that in 1946 the estimated life of the Central Junior High School was ten years. “I repeat that my recommendation is not to take this property.” The second was the offer by John W Walsh, owner of the property to donate the pond to the city, ”if the municipality would preserve and beautify the pond”36 This offer clearly changed the dynamic considerably and produced a petition in support of the beautification proposal with hundreds of local residents signatures. Given the depth of feeling on both sides, a compromise was suggested by the then Mayor Amelio Della Chiesa. It was hoped that “both groups might be satisfied by some plan that would permit the retention of the pond and at the same time devote some of the land for school purposes.”37
Source - an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 11/5/54 Source - an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 11/5/54 35 Source - an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 11/5/54 36 Source - an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 12/21/55 37 Source – an article in the Quincy Patriot Ledger 12/20/55
27 The Council meeting that took place on the 20th of December buried the matter for 1955 and would be dealt with by the 1956 council, after it was sworn in. Part of the explanation given for this was that hundreds of people were in favour of taking the pond and hundreds were against. Furthermore the compromise was unlikely to satisfy Mr Walsh. When “asked by Mayor Amelio Delia Chiesa if he would go through with the offer if the city adopted the compromise plan, Mr Walsh replied “I doubt it.”.38
Photograph 3 Butler’s Pond39
The press reports do not record how the matter was finally settled by the council of 1956, but it appears that the status quo remained for a further 16 years, although that part of the story is still being researched. Interestingly, sometime between 1957 and the early sixties the remainder of the pond on the south side is filled in. No protest is recorded and the reasons are not yet clear. By, 1972, the offer from Mr Walsh was still not resolved. In a meeting of the conservation committee on the 18th of May 1972 a decision was finally taken “to proceed with an application to the nature conservancy of New England for technical assistance in the transfer of Butler’s Pond to the custody of the commission.”40
Source – An article in the Quincy Patriot ledger 12/21/55 This photograph appeared in the Patriot Ledger on the 11th of November 1938. The read “The Famous Butler’s Pond. This is the view of Butler’s Pond in the rear of the Central Junior High School, which defenders of the pond approve. The picture of the pond, taken before the New England Hurricane of Sept 21 dumped numerous trees into its midst, was displayed at a meeting of the City Council this week, at which numerous Central Junior High officials and parents spoke for the city purchase of the pond to provide additional playground space at the school.” 40 Source – Article from the Quincy Patriot Ledger 5/19/72
28 Once again the trail of press clippings dries up. Council records show that the matter was raised again in September 1984 when John W Walsh, Junior, now North Quincy High School Principle, repeated the offer by his family to donate Butler’s Pond to the Conservation Commission. According to official records it took another 13 years before the deeds were finally transferred to the city41, mainly because of the legal difficulties already explained in chapter 2 of this history.
Throughout the 20th Century there are accounts from residents of ice skating on the pond, especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the early part of the century, when the pipe connecting the pond to the brook was still in place, the city would flood the pond (as Peter Butler had done before them), in order to enlarge the skating area. John W Walsh Junior remembers that the flooding of the pond had another valuable role to play. The ice formed in the pond would often have an uneven surface, sometimes because stones and other objects had fallen or were thrown onto the surface and making skating more hazardous. The flooding levelled the top surface reducing the risk of accidents. As was reported, above,42 the argument of the dangerous surface was used in 1954, as one reason for abandoning the pond Other respondents talked about the games of ice hockey that were played (using part of Mr Walsh’s garage as a back stop!) and of cook outs along the pond edges. To this day, local residents feed the ducks; and ensure that turtles get safely across the road as they move to and from nesting sites (approaching from the rear in the case of those that snap). There is at least one young man who fishes regularly in the pond, throwing back whatever he catches. Throughout recent history, it may be the local schools that have made the most use of the pond. Even in the period before 1954, school students could be seen at the waters edge undertaking examinations of frogs and other aquatic life. Since 1954, as the protection of species and habitat has become more of a social priority, the contribution made by students and teachers alike to the conservation, cleaning and studying of the pond has been both substantial and highly commendable, and forms the cornerstone of the next chapter of this history. Although it was possible to gather a few anecdotes from local residents, it is a part of the story of Butler’s Pond that merits more research. That the pond is important to local people is clear from the rearguard actions to defend it in years gone, by the time and trouble many have taken to keep the pond free form invasive plants and from the response to establishing a friends group. However, it was a little hard to make contact with residents who have been living in the area for 50 years or more who may have anecdotes, photographs and scars to attest to the role that the pond has played in their lives. Flora and fauna There is a belief that, at some time in the past, Central Middle School, or perhaps its predecessor the Central Junior High, compiled an inventory of the flora and fauna in the pond. In the absence of this list, we have to rely on the observations and anecdotal evidence of former, ad long standing residents. There are clearly bullfrogs, toads, snails, various species of turtle, including of course the snapping turtle, innumerable insects (including the mosquito,) mallard ducks, Canadian geese, red winged blackbirds, herons and occasional seabirds. Ospreys are also
Source – Norfolk Registry of Deeds Book 10210 page 510 See page 24
29 believed to nest around the pond, In addition, there are allegedly bream, small freshwater shrimps and perhaps catfish in the pond and, given that some residents claim to have red or gold fish in the pond, one must assume that some fish may have been tipped in by pet owners. 43 Of course there are all the usual mammals in the area around the pond including skunks, racoons, possum and muskrats. The muskrat was a friend of the person tending the pond when John W. Walsh Junior was living here. He remembers vividly standing and watching, as the muskrats felled the bulrushes in the pond and dragged them across the pond to their lodge. John had always called the standing reeds around the pond bulrushes although he admitted he did not know what Phragmites looked like to compare whether these plants were as attractive to lodge building Muskrats. .44 There is no catalogue of insects, plants, pond weeds, or all the various species of fish and pond life and, as such, is a task that is long overdue, despite being part of the original plan for the restoration project in 1995 (see chapter 4 below). This is an important issue, as understanding what lives in and around the pond will help inform plans for what should or should not be cut back and how.
In the midst of trying to get a sense of the wildlife of the pond more than one discussion was held about how did fish get into the pond in the first place, especially if a pond was never directly connected to any water source. In Butler’s pond’s case there was a connection to the creek through the pipe until some time in the first half of the 20th Century but those who study such freshwater features contend that the eggs of fish are probably transported on the feet of wading and other birds, as fish eggs are quite resilient. In fact, one person conjectured that they may be hardy enough to handle the oral faecal route of some wildlife 44 Bull rushes Any of various aquatic or wetland herbs of the genus Scirpus, having grasslike leaves and usually clusters of small, often brown spikelets. Phragmites australis, the Common Reed (see Reed (plant) for other species also called 'reed'), is a large perennial grass native to wetland sites throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. It is generally regarded as the sole species of the genus Phragmites, though some botanists divide the genus into three or four species.
Efforts to Clean, Maintain and Preserve the Natural Habitat
Health Warning During the short period available to research this report, efforts were been made to hold interviews and exchange information with many of the people who were involved in the various projects to improve the appearance and conserve the natural habitat in and around Butler’s Pond. Despite this, there are significant gaps in the analysis in this chapter and some of the key actors have had no opportunity to provide their own input. Therefore the analysis and comments in this section should be handled with a degree of caution. This chapter, in particular, is expected to be redrafted significantly, once missing evidence and opinions are forthcoming. Fighting Against Nature Professor Jonathon Twining, a Conservation Biologist teaching Environmental Science at East Nazarene College,45 explained that any pond or lake is only a temporary feature on the landscape and that the Friends of Butler’s Pond would be engaging in a struggle against nature itself. “The pond is in advanced stages of a natural process called “eutrophication”; a process of aging that all lakes and ponds go through. An important piece of understanding we must all have is that lakes and ponds are only temporary features in the ecosystem. All lakes and ponds eventually dry up and become wet meadows in the process of ecological succession (the orderly succession of one plant by another, ultimately ending up in a mature forest ecosystem). The speed at which eutrophication takes place defines the length of time until a pond…. Dries up. An example of a lake in the area that has undergone this process is Manet Lake on Hough’s Neck. Eutrophication is accelerated when humans add more nutrients, primarily phosphorus and nitrates, to a pond than would naturally occur over time.”46 Under Private Ownership Struggling against the forces of nature is, perhaps, a defining feature of humanity. Indeed, there is significant proof that, over the years, the residents around Butler’s Pond have willingly engaged in that endeavour. No evidence has been uncovered, as yet, of clean up exercises before the 20th Century (although it may be have been conducted as part of the farming cycle, if the pond was regarded as a productive resource). However, residents living around the pond in the 60’s (when it was still in private ownership) remember Mr Walsh, resplendent in his waders, raking out weeds. In that period, residents also recollect unobstructed views of the waters edge and across the pond (as the photographs in the 1930’s, earlier in this report, seem to attest). Mr Walsh himself remembers conducting a systematic cleaning campaign twice a year, in the spring
Professor Jonathon Twining wrote “Butler’s Pond: The preliminary report on sediment quality and management of Aquatic weeds” 46 Source a letter by Professor Jonathon Twining to Commissioner David Cotton of the Quincy Department of Public Works dated October 30th 2001 talking about Sailors’ Pond but the same factors apply to Butler’s Pond.
31 and autumn over a 2 to 3 week period. This included ridding the water of exotic and excess pond weeds, rubbish and debris, and cutting back overgrown “bulrushes” from banks. Bequeathed to the City One or two informants commented on the reason why it may have taken so long for the city authorities to accept Mr Walsh’s offer to donate the pond in 1954, on the condition that “the municipality would preserve and beautify the pond”. Perhaps, they suggested, the city was fearful of the costs involved in honouring Mr Walsh’s conditionality. However, others suggest that it might have been easier for a local authority to take no action than decide one way or another in a contentious case. On the other hand, it is not fair to state that no action was taken at all. In May 1972, the Conservation Commission voted to proceed with an application to the Nature Conservancy of New England for technical assistance in the transfer of Butler’s Pond to the custody of the commission.47 Certainly, the fact that there was a legal obstacle to the transfer of the pond to the City and Conservation Commission was a factor in the delays after 1984 (see also chapter 3). However, what is clear to long standing residents interviewed during the study is that the pond has never consistently regained the well maintained condition it had before the authorities took over. The exceptions being when specific cleaning campaigns were fought First Assessment of the State of the Pond It is interesting to note that a number of informants remembered taking part in efforts to conserve and improve the appearance of the pond. Central Junior High School had gone to great lengths to celebrate the very first Earth Day48 on the 22nd of April 1970. Although Butler’s Pond was probably not a major feature of that first celebration, it was probably as a consequence that the first substantial attempt to assess the condition of Butler’s Pond was undertaken in 1972. According to a press release at the time, “Teachers and Students at Central Junior High School prepared a quantitative analysis of the pond to be used as part of the application to the Nature Conservancy. Harold Crowley, the commission chairman is reported as saying “We are most appreciative for the public spirited generosity of Mr Walsh and most grateful for the excellent data provided by the teachers and students of Central”49 An attempt was made to collect a copy of this study but, at the time of writing this, staff at the Central Middle School had not yet managed to locate it. An informant, who was at the school at the time, believes annual clean ups of Butler Pond around Earth Day started in 1972, and have continued since then. Woodward School students also participate in these Earth Day activities and instituted further annual conservation activities in the week that includes “Make a Difference Day.”50 In the past, this involved actually removing trash from the pond itself but, in recent times, it has focused on removing trash from around the pond. Woodward school has also regularly checked water quality and was active in advising local residents on how to minimise pollution of the pond, suggesting a number of including using less salt as a snow and ice removal measure; using commercial car washing facilities, reducing or eliminating the use of fertilisers, and using a drop spreader rather than a rotary spreader if application is necessary; removal of
Source - Quincy Patriot Ledger 5/19/72 Source - R Joyce Association of Friends of Wollaston Beach and former Central Junior High Student 49 Source - Quincy Patriot Ledger 5/19/72 50 Source - Cheryl Casey Woodward School. “Make a difference day” was initiated in 1990 and takes place on the fourth Saturday in October
32 pet waste etc.
The fact that young people were involved in regular clean up campaigns from the 1972 is evidenced by the photo printed below, which appeared in the Quincy Sun on May 1st 1975. However, on this occasion, it was a resident led initiative. Earth Day that year was proclaimed as Friday, March 21, 1975 by the then President Gerald Ford.
The caption at the time read - “Young residents combined their efforts to clean debris from the edges of Butler’s Pond. The project, lasted the better part of the day and was eagerly attacked by neighbourhood youths, with assistance from Tim Sullivan (centre) who organised the project and Steve Buccella, far left,. Also on the scene of the clean up were Brian Dunn, Liz Norton, Billy McMegan. John Norton, Bobby McCarthy, Joe IIaqua, Brian Norton, Chrissy Sullivan. Workers in the boat were Dom IIaqua, Trisha IIaqua and Laurie Sullivan”52 In 1976, residents struggling against an attempt to build an apartment block at 41 Butler Road claimed that they “take a great deal of pride in our neighbourhood. We are fortunate to be located in the area of a National Historic landmark, the Dorothy Quincy House, and the entire neighbourhood conducts an annual cleaning of the pond to beautify it for the visitors to the Dorothy Quincy House across the street.”53 The Butler’s Pond restoration project In May 1989, a local resident, “Ronald Di Gregorio contacted Councilor Charles Phelan
A full list of the measures recommended is included as Appendix 8 to this report Source Quincy Sun Newspaper May 1st 1975 - photo by Steve List 53 Source – Patriot Ledger 4/24/76
33 requesting the city to preserve Butler’s Pond.” Nonetheless, it seems to have been another 6 years before concrete action took place.55 In 1995, Commissioner David A Colton developed a preliminary plan for the restoration of Butler’s Pond. His plan would address the most “challenging aspect of Butler’s Pond restoration” which was “forging a visual if not physical link between the Pond, the Quincy Homestead and Furnace Brook beyond”.56 The proposal, regrettably perhaps, did not include restoring the old pipe to the brook, but it did contain several key elements, in addition to the visual link between the three local features: Improving the water quality Rehabilitation of the water’s edge and embankments57 Closing the central part of Marginal Road to create a larger open space leading to the pond environment Redesign Central Middle School parking lot 58 Mr Colton’s plan was to create a sectional team including a manager, teacher, citizen, and conservation commission member, plus a sewer/water/drain engineer to formulate policy, set goals and objectives, meet with the public and oversee work at hand. From this moment on, the baton appears to pass to Michael Wheelwright who, in 1995, was a landscape architect and a Program Manager at the Department of Public Works in Quincy. The first steps in implementing the plan were described in a letter of enquiry for the Butler’s Pond Restoration Project (described as a Public/Private/Environmental and Educational Project) and dated November 5th 1996. By this time, the objective had been refined slightly and was now “to reverse the climax evolution of a small urban pond so as to retain the pond as an open body of water in close juxtaposition to the Central business district and preserve the natural resources for the enjoyment of the neighbourhood and a biological asset to the schools in the immediate environs.”59 The process would involve a joint effort to restore Butler’s Pond to previous levels of ecological balance ”and invoke a process facilitated by the Department of Public Works and involving the city public schools, its administration, the abutters, a private girls school and an independent consultant for guidance and construction.” 60 The problem was that the pond was slowly filling with sediment and urban debris “the alluvial morass serving as medium for emerging stands of phragmites.”61 All this was speeding up the inevitable process of eutrophication, as well as creating unsafe sight lines and dangerous ice. Because of their long association with the pond, the Central Junior High School Administration was already aware of the restoration initiative. Woodward School, on the other hand, were out of the loop. However, by coincidence, at the very time that the restoration project was taking shape, Woodward Science Teachers were considering taking their classes out to study the local environment. When they approached Mike Wheelwright in the DPW to liaise on work around
Source - Research by Wendy Cheng Although in the letter of enquiry written the 5th of November 1996 it was claimed that the authorities had been working on the issue since 1993. 56 Source – Letter from David A Cotton to Mayor James A Sheets April 4th 1995 57 His plan included a perimeter path,; vistas across the pond; cutting up/opening plant material at edges; investigation of plant biology and geology. 58 This plan suggested redirecting drainage (run off) away from the pond and having staff parking closer to Hancock Street) 59 Source - letter of enquiry for the Butler’s Pond Restoration Project. A public/private/environmental and Educational Project written by David Wheelwright 11/05/96. 60 Source - letter of enquiry for the Butler’s Pond Restoration Project. A public/private/environmental and Educational Project written by David Wheelwright 11/05/96. 61 Source - letter of enquiry for the Butler’s Pond Restoration Project. A public/private/environmental and Educational Project written by David Wheelwright 11/05/96
34 Butler’s Pond, they too became involved in the restoration. As mentioned in the enquiry letter, the key part of the plan was a work study class for the public/private junior high classes. This process would set out to analyse and solve the ecological problems and recommend solutions, through a six week series of workshop. It would culminate in a comprehensive master plan, which the joint class presented to the Quincy Conservation Commission at the culmination of the class year. Michael Wheelwright officially initiated the Butler’s Pond Restoration Project in April 1997 with the filing of a notice “for installation of storm water filter and erosion control and wild life enhancement”62 However, the DPW had already started clearing the site (with an earlier permission from the Quincy Conservation Commission). Approval for the project was finally given on the 3rd of June 1998 (with permission to launch a floating island given 7 days later). Despite the restoration project being approved, it was sometime before the work on clearing the pond of phragmites and other vegetation began. There were complaints to the mayor in late 1998 and an appeal to Rosemary Nolan of the DPW for action in October 1999. The Pond study
In December 1999, Professor Twining and students from the Eastern Nazarene College completed their study for the DPW. Although the city later claimed not to have acted on this
Source - Research by Wendy Cheng
35 report alone and also “sought guidance from professionals and the neighbourhood” the report was a critical piece of research, as it gave clear scientific analysis of the pond‘s condition and guidance on how the prevailing issues might be addressed. In that report Professor Twining concluded that there were three main issues: I. Water and Sediment Quality – The report concluded that with the high levels of nutrients in the water, especially phosphorus, that the pond was in a eutrophic state with an average depth of just three feet. Evidence for this included the presence of filamentous green algae in the pond, proliferation of submergent aquatic vegetation; and the high phosphorus concentration. The other concern was the high levels of lead in both the water and sediment from street runoff, atmospheric deposits from industry and trash in the pond. There was a fear too that regular dredging may re-suspend many metals in the sediment such as zinc, aluminium and mercury that are toxic to many aquatic organisms. In 1999, Professor Twining was reluctant to recommend aeration, because it would not alleviate the phosphorus loading in the pond which causes the unsightly algae blooms in the summer time. Other remedies would be more successful for dealing with phosphorus, In addition, Professor Twining lacked the necessary additional data on dissolved oxygen in the summer64 to make an informed judgement II. Submergent Aquatic vegetation – The existence of prolific submergent aquatic vegetation can significantly affect sediment and nutrient levels in shallow ponds. Dead plants decay on the pond bottom increasing sediment levels and releases nitrogen and phosphorus which in turn increases nutrient levels and a subsequent proliferation of aquatic vegetation and algae choking the pond. III. Phragmites, which were reported as almost completely surrounding the pond,65 are, by far, the most visible and discussed element in the struggle to conserve Butler’s Pond. Into the long grass Although regarded with hostility in the Eastern United States, phragmites is a valued resource in other parts of the world. It can be used as forage and bedding for livestock, a habitat for a variety of animals, thatch for roofing, stream bank protection, or in the manufacture of traditional implements. Hostility emanates from its uniform dense growth that excludes nearly all other plant life; its ability to rapidly occupy huge swathes of land and because it appears to support little in the way of wildlife, fish or invertebrates. “Phragmites is a member of the grass family and thus it has features that are characteristic of this group. These include peculiar flower structures and hollow stems with strengthening cross plates at the nodes. The hollow stems
Source – report on Remediation at Butler Pond by Rosemary Nolan submitted to Quincy City Council Public Works Commissioner David A Colton 6/11/01 64 Writing a letter to DPW Commissioner David Colton on October 30th 2001 Professor Twining explained that – “When the students first obtained dissolved oxygen concentrations from various depths in the pond, it was in the fall turnover. Every fall, cooler air temperatures cause subsequent cooling of the surface waters of the pond. Cold water has greater density than warn water; so it sinks to the bottom carrying oxygen with it. Therefore, the bottom in the fall is well oxygenated. What many people do not recognise is that when I checked the oxygen concentration levels in the pond in the summer of 1999, the dissolved oxygen concentration was nearly zero which is typical of a pond in eutrophication. In summer the water at the bottom of the pond is trapped because surface waters are warn and less dense and will not sink to the bottom. Bacteria that are decomposing dead algae at the bottom of the pond consume what little oxygen that exists causing the dissolved oxygen levels to approach zero. Such conditions often result in fish kills because there is not enough oxygen for them to survive. “ 65 It is had to accurately report everything that Professor Twining concluded, as neither he, nor any of the local contacts have a complete copy of the report. The copy provided to the research was just seven pages long and did not include Professor Twining’s conclusions on how phragmites should be tackled.
36 connect to a vast underground system of roots and rhizomes (underground stems that spread out laterally). The rhizomes in particular are one of the secrets of its success. They measure over an inch in diameter and often over 20 feet long. These stems are hollow and allow oxygen to travel from the leaves to the root tips in the oxygen deficient soil. They also have a bud at each node that can form new shoots (large, hollow stems) that may emerge from the soil. Rhizomes can grow downward as well as outward. In fact, a single Phragmites plant can spread out laterally and form a large colony while, at the same time, maintaining a root system deep in the sol. This takes place thanks to its ability to transport oxygen containing air through its rhizome system. Phragmites’ method for moving oxygen downward to its roots is also a unique and specialised system, which gives it a great advantage in the highly anaerobic soil of marshes. When stems die and break off, they leave the base of the shoot sticking above the surface of the ground. As wind blows across the hollow bases of these old stems, it lowers the air pressure inside. This decrease in pressure causes a flow of air from the leaves of each new shoot through the rhizome system, and this supplies even more oxygen to roots that sprout from the rhizomes. Through this mechanism, Phragmites can move oxygenated air three to four feet from each stem, or much farther than plants lacking this structure. The rhizomes also give the plant another kind of insurance, for even when separated from the mother plant, buds located on fragments of rhizomes can germinate and start new plants. The most common causes for this method of spread are storms and human activities, both of which distribute rhizome fragments across the land.”66 School lessons learned? The grants that came to the project were a testimony to the hard work of many involved in the restoration project, and, in particular, the Woodward and Central Middle School students and staff. The two schools invested a huge amount of time and energy over the six week work study period. No less than 48 students and 4 faculty members from the two schools were actively involved throughout the process. The staff facilitated a number of joint Workshops/Design Charettes,67 which resulted in a highly imaginative proposal for the pond and its surroundings. The elements of that design68 were explained in an application to “Pledge and Promise Environmental Awards.” The ideas it revealed were bold and imaginative. There were goals designed to encourage the neighbourhood to keep the pond free from pollutants by tackling street runoff, the use of harmful fertilisers and pesticides, plus an organic filter to clean water at the point of entry69. They also wanted to keep the environment trash-free by introducing rubbish barrels. Another aspect was the idea to build a playground, a small maze and a picnic area to enable children to play safely under parental supervision. There was also a design for a perimeter
Source – Phragmites Love or Hate it by Joan G Ehrenfeld PhD., Professor , Cook College, Rutgers University For the uninitiated (like the researcher) a Charette is defined as a meeting or conference devoted to a concerted effort to solve a problem or to solve something. It has a second meaning i.e. a period designated for intense work especially in order to meet a deadline. The origin of this word is French – i.e. from “chariot” or cart. It was thought it referred to a coach in which people in France would travel together to discuss a weighty problem, which they would endeavor to resolve by the time they reached their destination. However, the Oxford English dictionary gives the origin of the phrase as a reference to the use of a cart in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the 19th Century to collect students work before a deadline. 68 Cheryl Casey of Woodward School still has the display board and plan of the proposed pond development together with photographs of the various clean up activities that went on around the pond 69 See appendix 9 for a sketch of the organic filter
37 path, seating, and a floating island so that wildlife could be observed at a safe distance and be protected from other animals that may threaten them. The plants on the floating island would also absorb some of the phosphorus and other nutrients from the water in the pond. They also suggested an amphitheatre on the pond side to hold small school plays, musicals and talks about the pond, which would be built with granite stones from the former Quincy school.
A sketch of the stonework as designed by Waterflowers
This plan seems to have been accepted in its entirety, because the initial Butler Pond Restoration letter of enquiry incorporates many the details of that plan (in an appendix concerning the budget and phasing of the project) Phase I was clearing and grubbing of the Easements and Abandonments and the project planning, which were costed at $2,400 and paid for from the 1995/6 Budget of the City DPW. Phase II were the Co-ordination Charettes and other outreach activities priced at $2,500. Phase III was the Ecological Field Trips (including resource materials, substitute teachers, reference books and Lab Equipment) proceed at $3,100. Phase IV was the Bio dredge and water filter at $7,900.
38 Phases II – IV came to a sub total of $13,500, which was earmarked for funding from The Massachusetts Environmental Trust. Phase V would be the construction of the amphitheatre at $7,600 Phase VI was the stepping stones (incorporating benches, interpretative signs, trash/recycling receptacles, walk ways, on going maintenance etc) totalling $8,000. These last two items were also earmarked to come from the DPW budget. The total cost of the scheme was therefore $31,500. It is not clear why there turned out to be insufficient funds to implement the last two phases of the programme. The schools had to seek support and funding for these elements (e.g. the frog rubbish bins and the additional plan for a floating island). They managed to raise sums of money, including $5,000 from the Fleet Bank, (part of which went to pay the costs of an ecological consultant, Terry Bastion from Waterflowers). This suggests that, while the appeal to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust may have been successful, the Department of Public works had problems honouring their initial pledge. In 1998, a letter sent to the Conservation Commission revealed that “the city of Quincy would not be funding the project next year.” Observers have suggested that the problem might have been due to a change of administration in the city at that time; from one that was supportive, to one that may not have shared the previous regime’s priorities. Another factor, which is explored in a little more detail below, may have been the complications that arose in trying to complete the more controversial aspects of the restoration process. Whatever the reasons, much of the rest of the plan gradually died on the vine, much to disappointment of some of those who had invested so much effort in its design. The schools clearly played a big role in the cleaning up of the pond that took place at the time and learned a great deal about how quickly ponds can be polluted, the effect it will have on wildlife and how it can be addressed. However, it might be useful to consider to what extent these initial plans were over-dependent on resources from local government that could not be guaranteed in the light of possible changes in political leadership. The other, trickier issue is one that plagues projects all over the world. Young people who lived in the area, but were not directly engaged in the project, seem to have reacted negatively to the new project. This group vandalised the bins and eventually destroyed the floating island. There may be lessons in this story for both administrators and project planners. It seems that the planning process was excellent, producing a truly imaginative plan. However, even without truly understanding the full history of the events at the time, a question remains as to whether sufficient attempts were made to involve other young people living in and around the community? In particular those who were no longer in formal education or who voluntarily excluded themselves from the project? The problem can sometimes be that people, understandably, work with those young people who are willing and actively motivated to participate. Those who refuse to get involved (perhaps because of past experiences of being rejected or marginalised), or are not invited (because they are not in school or have behavioural issues in the community), may feel increasingly excluded and resentful. This feeling may be exacerbated further, if there are no resources in the plan meet their social needs. This could be a real issue for the embryonic association of friends for Butler’s Pond, especially if any planning goes beyond habitat restoration and into creating the kind of park envisaged in the 1990’s.70
In saying that it should be noted that, in the 21st Century, there was a renewed pledge of matching funding from the City
39 Judgement Days Another point of frustration for many residents was the long time that it took to implement the changes that were already funded. One critical factor in this was the various actions of William Aylward, formerly editor of the Black Creek Newsletter.
(i) Sweetheart of the rodeo?
According to documents written by the Project Manager of the Department of Works in Quincy (DPW), Rosemary Nolan, the city authorities first attempted to address the question of the invasion of Phragmites around Butlers Pond by the use of bio-remediation and mowing. However, these attempts proved unsuccessful. Consequently, neighbourhood meetings were held in 1998 and 1999 to discuss options, resulting in the Quincy DPW filing for a grant from the Department of Environmental Management (DEP) to use Rodeo to get rid of the Phragmites. The grant was approved and publicised in the press and an application made to the Quincy Conservation Commission for an Order of Conditions. They held a public meeting on July 19th 2000, attended by Mr Aylward, but no objections to the project were voiced. Following that meeting the Department of Public Works received permission from the Quincy Conservation Commission71 to apply a treatment of Rodeo (glyphosate) to the phragmites.72 On the August 3rd 2000, two weeks before the work was due to start, Mr Aylward wrote to the Department of Environmental Protection, Wetlands Division with a petition signed by 10 residents requesting them to review the Order of Conditions for the Pond Restoration project because of (i) faulty notice and improper advertising and (ii) internal contradictions in the proposal. He contested claims that the ingredients in Rodeo were non toxic, and expressed fears that its use might endanger wildlife; such as the Ospreys who nest there.73 He also wondered how a product containing 20% phosphorus by weight could be used to treat phragmites, when the principle problem facing the pond was eutrophication and the main cause of that condition was the high phosphorus levels in the pond.74 Mr Aylward then went on to develop his arguments in the 14th August edition of the Black’s Creek newsletter.75 Following an informational letter sent to all 10 signatories on the petition, 5 withdrew their signatures. After being informed of this development, the DEP authorised the treatment. However, a second follow up treatment of the phragmites was halted, because by March of 2001, Mr Aylward had filed a written statement of unresolved issues. These charged the DPW with improper notice and false advertising on the use of Glyphosate on the follow up remediation. Rosemary Nolan (the then Quincy DPW project manager) wrote to the Department of Environmental Protection76 in March 2001, with a statement addressing the unresolved issues. In addition to explaining the history of other action taken to address the issue of Phragmites in
Source – Black’s creek Newsletter August 14th 2000 It is suggested that the first treatment (direct application) of Rodeo, reported as a non toxic substance was a focused spray. The planned contact application is what is known as cut and dab – where the plant is cut down and the agent applied to the remaining stem. It was claimed that rodeo has been successfully used in the remediation of many ponds and lakes in new England. Source research by Wendy Cheng 73 It was argued by the DPW that US department of agriculture only regards the application of glyphosate as a threat, if it is applied to where they live. In this case there was no spraying of tree tops. 74 According to the DPW nowhere in the US Department of Agriculture information on Rodeo does it mention 20% concentration and in any case the major problem for the DPW in Butlers Pond was phragmites not phosphorus. 75 The text of this article is reprinted as appendix 6 to this report. 76 Source – Letter sent to Dineen Simpson the Docket Clerk at the Office of environmental appeal Department of Environmental Protection March 28th 2001
40 the past, Ms Nolan reported that first direct application was done in August, when the school was not in session. It also stressed that “Quincy Public Works did research Rodeo (Glyphosate) via the EPA, Marine, Fisheries and Wildlife and the US Department of Agriculture and Forest Service where Glyphosate has been studied and determined to be non-carcinogenic for humans, does not cause developmental problems nor mutagenicicty77 problems. They also stated that the Rodeo formula (Glyphosate) is particularly non toxic to freshwater fish and aquatic invertebrate animals.”78 Once the treatment was completed, the DPW claimed that they had successfully removed 90% - 95% of the Phragmites and intended to spot treat the Phragmites the next year to avoid new bloom. That treatment took place in August 2000 and then “Workers returned in November with a mechanical raking contraption that removed the dead phragmites, root balls and all.”79 The local press, in 2001, claimed that “spring has brought a fresh beginning to Butler’s Pond, where neighbourhood delights now include bird watching and counting turtles basking in the sun….The pond comeback efforts, years in the making, are the result of a novel environmental partnership being coordinated by public works programme manager Rosemary Nolan. “These two ponds (referring to both Sailors Pond and Butler’s Pond) are really jewels in an urban setting,” said Nolan who said the recovery projects have teamed state and city officials with neighbours, middle school and college students and an environmental company.”80 On the 11th of June 2001, Rosemary Nolan then produced a detailed history of Butler’s Pond preservation and remediation. In this paper, the DPW expanded upon what had been written earlier and emphasised that the research by the student and Professor Twining’s subsequent report were not the only source of expertise brought to bear. It emphasised that the main issue at Butler’s Pond had always been the phragmites because “it negatively impacts the habitat by turning a water body into a marsh or field and it also drives out the wildlife because of the change to the habitat” The city secured grants from the Department of Environmental Management and DEP Wetland and Banking to address the ongoing problem., which they did with the help of Aquatic Controls Technology. The report expanded on the evidence to show why Rodeo (Glyphosate) is a herbicide classified for general use and defended her position that her use of the term non toxic to describe Glyphosate in an advertised notice because of the EPA information terming it “practically non toxic.”81 By this time, according to the this same paper, the city were now providing matching funding for any grants secured to help preserve the pond. It is not clear if this was the default position adopted when the plans to develop the surroundings of the pond were dropped, or this was an attempt by a later administration to redress the earlier decision to withdraw funding.
(ii) Don’t get aerated
By July of the same year, the process moved on to the question of a subsurface aeration system for the enhancement of aquatic vegetation. This was not in the original notice of intent and consequently a public hearing by the Quincy Conservation Commission was necessary. The DPW reported strong community support for this move at the meeting and, in due course, the Conservation Commission approved the move.
Defined as the ability to cause genetic damage i.e. having the capacity to case mutation Source – Written statement of Unresolved Issues by Rosemary Nolan Project Manager Quincy Public Works Department March 28th 2001 79 Source - Patriot Ledger of April 28th 2001 80 Source - Patriot Ledger of April 28th 2001 81 Some of the detail on the challenges from Mr. Aylward and the defence of the DPW are attached as appendix 7
41 On April 29th 2002, Mr Aylward filed a complaint about the installation of the aerator systems in both Butler’s Pond and Sailors Pond to the DPW Commissioner Jay Fink. Mr Aylward’s letter states ‘“Aeration… should not be considered based on lack of effectiveness, potential harm to the environment or cost,”’ says the study of Butlers Pond, prepared by Quincy DPW by professor Jonathon Twining of Eastern Nazarene College in 1998.” He goes on to point out that “Another study prepared for the DPW by Comprehensive Environmental Inc. of Dedham, in 1999, does not recommend aeration either. Both studies recommended bio-remediation and pollution control – by managing urban run-off – as the way to rehabilitate ponds.” He also claimed that the installation of aerators in Butlers Pond could not be justified as no study had yet determined the level of dissolved oxygen in the water.82 However, Professor Twining had already clarified his position in October of 2001, when talking exclusively about Sailors Pond.. “I think it is a good thing that you are considering aeration of the pond. ...since now we know that dissolved oxygen concentrations are indeed low at the bottom in the summer months, aeration will provide several important benefits: Provide the essential oxygen needed in particular by those animals that live on or near the bottom of the pond. Provide the oxygen for bacteria and other aquatic organisms to decompose dead organic material, particularly dead algae that fall to the bottom and are certainly a factor in the rapid filling of the pond.”83 In April 2002, Rosemary Nolan responded to Mayor Phelan concerning Mr Aylward’s claims. She reiterated that other measures were taken first (such as bio remediation and pollution control), before resorting to aeration. She also listed a number of experts in the field who had supported the measure. She also addressed the concern Mr Aylward had about cost and maintenance and finished with a complaint of her own ”Mr Aylward has not been involved in any of the pro-active activities (associated with Butler’s Pond and Sailors Home Pond) or meetings, not even a neighbourhood clan up. His only interest in the ponds is to fuel his antagonism against the city.” Mr Aylward submitted an appeal to Quincy Conservation Commission on the 6th of May 2002 stating that the aerator installed in Butler’s pond by Quincy DPW was in violation of the order of conditions issued by the Conservation Commission in August 2000. The case was then forwarded to the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Department which ordered the Quincy Ten Citizen group to show cause for not dismissing the case filed against the DPW for installation of the aerator in Butler’s Pond. All of these action seems to have had a pretty negative effect on the exciting plans developed by the schools, many years earlier. As Rosemary Nolan explained “we were stopped from taking the second year step by ten signature petition Bill Aylward circulated (subsequently 5 of the signers wished to cancel their signature as Mr Aylward had misinformed them of what the DPW was doing). However, Mr Aylward held the DPW hostage for 2 years in legal appeals and the result was that we were never able to do the Alum treatment, which would have kept the regrowth of phragmites to about 5% which would have been manageable.”84
Sore – letter from William G Aylward to DPW Commissioner Jay Fink 29th April 2002 Source - a letter to DPW Commissioner David Colton on October 30th 2001 from Professor Jonathon Twining 84 Source - an e-mail from Rosemary Nolan
This seems to have marked the end of Mr Aylward’s campaigns against the DPW and city authorities. He does appear one last time in the comprehensive analysis that Wendy Cheng did of Councilor Gutro’s documents on Butler’s Pond, which informs most of this chapter. In September 2008, Mr Aylward launched a final salvo on the past mismanagement of Butler’s Pond in the black Creek newsletter. He list a series of complaints including; • A failure to honour their commitment to use part of Quincy City grant to control untreated storm water inputs into the pond. • That no grant funds were used to control sediment build-up in the pond or to control the level of pollutants, particularly phosphorus. • That a recommendation in the restoration project plan to redesign the parking lot of central Middle school to redirect run-off was never implemented Sage advice This history does not seek to provide guidance on the specific measures that should be taken to address the increasing ecological challenges facing Butler’s Pond. However, during the course of the research, a number of informed respondents made suggestions as to how the problems should be tackled. From his experience and reading, Richard Joyce suggests that there is little risk associated with a concerted effort to cut back Phragmites from the edge of the pond, “during almost any time of the year outside of the plant’s most ‘prolific’ growth of June through August.” The primary benefit of this strategy would be as a positive motivational element of mobilising the local
43 population on action that would have an immediate visual impact, pose little or no risk to indigenous flora and fauna and would not compromise any future action that might be taken to tackle pond weeds, nutrient levels in the water or sediment. “However, this strategy would do little towards long term control. Unless and until more involved methods such as herbicide treatment or root ball extraction could be permitted, funded and executed, a ‘next step’ that could be done by neighbours would be to commit themselves towards cutting (and removing) the new growth of phragmites during the summer months. Arthur Knowlton of Houghs Neck is an excellent example of making this work, on the phragmites that were encroaching on his property. This method would take 3 – 5 years to be effective.”85 Rosemary Nolan had a number of suggestions – • Currently the blue condominiums on Merrymount Road still have leaves blown into the pond. This was witnessed by a DPW person so, that condo association needs to be asked to stop that practice.86 • If the phragmites is simply cut back, it will re-grow the following season. The key is to get the root ball out. The company we used, Aquatic Controls, is one of the most respected throughout New England. They invented a machine to dig out the root balls. • Going forward, a source of funding ahs to be identified to repeat the project and finish the programme with Alum treatment. That will be about $5,000 at the least. Professor Jonathon Twining urged a little more caution in proceeding. • “It is extremely difficult and expensive to find a permanent solution to Phragmites once it had invaded a pond or salt marsh. It might be feasible to cut the phragmites on an annual basis just to rescue the eyesore, and cutting may put some stress on the Phragmites. However, this is not a long term solution. I would recommend seeking the opinion of an environmental consulting form or aquatic weed control Company to see what current remedies might be available. In terms of phosphorus removal, further investigation is warranted to see what remedies are available now that may not have been in 1999. One method that might work is the addition of alum, but aluminium can be toxic to some aquatic invertebrates and fish. Anther remedy that was considered back in 1999 was a floating island of plants that could soak up phosphorus in the water. Again some on line research would prove fruitful in seeing what remedies are currently available. I believe that before any additional work is done on the pond, there should be a comprehensive assessment of the pond, including a proper water quality analysis by an analytical laboratory, and a biological assessment to see what species are using the pond including any additional invasive aquatic plants). Further sediment analysis would not be necessary unless you are going to consider removal of the sediment to deepen the pond.”87
Richard Joyce has assembled an impressive array of documents about Phragmites including a technical report for the Wetland Program in January 2002 that outlines the huge array of possible ways of tackling Phragmites. These include spraying, wicking (the wipe-on application of herbicide), Sulphide treatments, water management, disking, bulldozing, dredging, seasonal mowing, cutting, plastic barriers, perimeter ditching, brining shading and forms of biological control. Of course not all of these treatments are permeable, viable or desirable because of
From an email from Richard Joyce Wendy Cheng notes that an effort was made last year to get the landscaping crew to stop blowing eaves into the pond but suspects that annual reminders may be necessary 87 From a memo by professor Jonathon Twining dated 10/16/2009 and reprinted as appendix 2 of this report
44 environmental factors such as clean air legislation, the fact that the pond is fresh water rather than saline and more extreme measures may result in the toxins in the sediment being resuspended in the pond water.88 Sources of support and analysis
“There are a number of analytical laboratories in the area that cloud analyse water samples for you, including G & L Laboratories (Quincy) and GeoLabs (Braintree). I would have to do some further investigation to see what companies might be able to do the biological assessment, but if they are still around, Comprehensive Environmental was doing good work for Rosemary Nolan, the former Quincy DPW programme manager. It might be possible for one or more of my students to work on the assessment of the pond as well, but this would probably not take place until next summer or fall. I have students that complete a research during their senior years. They will be starting to plan this project next spring. If this is something you would want to pursue, please let me know. Also, find ways to utilize Central Middle School students and other school groups that I know have already been collecting data. If I can be of further assistance please let me know.”89 Rosemary Nolan suggested a couple of places to try for support and advice – For grantsDepartment of Environmental Management Office of Water Resources/Lake and Pond Grants 100 Cambridge Street. 19th floor Boston, MA 02201-0001 (Mr Steve Asen was the contact person at that time) For plant treatment services etc – Aquatic Control 11 John Road Sutton MA Gerry Smith (tel 508-865-1000)
For the full text explaining how these various treatments work please consult “A summary of methods for controlling Phragmites Australis by Libby Norris, James E Perry and Kirk J Havens published in The Wetlands Program Technical Report Number 02-2 January 2002 89 From a memo by professor Jonathon Twining dated 10/16/2009 and reprinted as appendix 2 of this report
It was never the intention of this paper to attempt to determine what action should be taken in the future to arrest the eutrophication process that is accelerating the possible demise of Butler’s Pond. Rather its goal was to provide information and evidence from the distant and recent past that might usefully advise such a decision making process. What strikes someone coming in from outside is the incredible amount of energy, enthusiasm and commitment that has been shown in defence of this natural resource over several generations. This has not been a case of just a handful of committed individuals but a significant proportion of local residents, their children and other students in local schools, their teachers, local government officials and representatives of the people, all working collaboratively. Significantly, local residents have resisted two serious attempts to have the pond filled in, and have challenged other unsightly developments around the pond90 Despite this rigour, not everything has been preserved. The building of Merrymount Road itself may have sounded the death knell for the smaller, south side of the pond. When the land of Peter Butler that passed to the O’Connor’s did not include the section that reached Greenleaf Road, but, instead, was sold off into small plots, it was probably inevitable that it would lead to the filling of part, and ultimately all of the southern section. Nonetheless, there is a strong sense that what remains of this small local landmark and erstwhile beauty spot should be maintained as a resource for future generations to come. The experience of the past shows that while the state institutions will help (and should be encouraged to do so) they will not necessarily provide all the answers and may renege on earlier assurances, if political will fades. Threats face the pond that are not simply those caused by the natural process of a small lake turning into a marsh. A number of people mentioned the possibility that, within some years, the Central Middle School will be closed, the building torn down and the site available for redevelopment. Such a lucrative opportunity may present significant new challenges to the pond and the community. A fully formed, dynamic local association may be best placed to face that threat, should it arrive. Whatever happens, it is perhaps important to try and make the process of developing the area as inclusive of all elements of the local community as possible.
On the 24th of April 1976 The Patriot Ledger reported that ”Twenty Nine residents of Butler’s Pond area have signed a petition objecting to a Milton man’s plan to convert a two family dwelling to a five unit apartment building. In their petition, the residents say the converted building… would create an eyesore, since th entire backyard would be turned into a parking lot. It states that the residents are upset about the transient element the apartment house would introduce into their neighbourhood.”
Appendix 1 Full text of Newspaper articles relating to this report
It was not possible to read every word on every line of these articles as the microfiche was badly scratched and the news papers not always carefully positioned and flattened before the photo was taken. There may be one or two typos too as these were retyped in a bit of a hurry. For guaranteed accuracy please consult the microfiche records in Thomas Crane Library. On the other hand, every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the quotes from these articles that appear in the text of this history.
New protest on proposal for pond 3/29/1939 Quincy Patriot Ledger Protesting that the filling of Butler Pond to create a play area at the Central Junior High school would result in a nuisance near their homes, a group of nearby residents appeared before the city school committee last night seeking to prevent the development. The school committee has appealed to the City Council to take the land of Butler’s Pond for playground, but the City Council has refused to at on the proposal. Pointing out that the filling of Butler’s Pond would cost $16,000, according to an estimate of cit officials, the group of protesting residents declared that the additional play area is not needed at the Central Junior High School Committeeman Livero Marini declared it his opinion that additional play are is needed at the school, but agreed to cooperate to find some area other than Butler’s Pond land. Butler Pond’s Beauty Debated 13 Injured in At Hearing On Playground 5/11/1954 Quincy Patriot Ledger Pros and Cons on the taking of Butler’s Pond as a site for a Central Junior High School playground were aired before the City Council last night, with 16 speaking in favour and eight appearing in opposition. 2 ½ Hour Hearing Following completion of a two and a half hour bearing an additional 24 persons registered themselves in favour of taking the pond for playground purposes and another 13 registered in opposition The speaking took place in a jammed Council chamber in which charges of the use of pressure groups were frequently made….. The hearing on the taking of Butler’s Pond was the second and final hearing before the Council takes its decision. Petitions have been filled with the city clerk by both sides, with 1,750 names in favour of filling in the pond and another 373 names opposed. Opposition to the taking of Butler’s Pond was spearheaded by John W. Walsh Jr. co-owner of the pond, who urged the Council to reject the petition on grounds of the pond’s aesthetic value, it’s safely for children, and the high cost of filling it to make it playground. Walsh said the eventual cost of the project would be between 40 and 50 thousand dollars. He said the pond was only 3 or 4 feet deep and in the summertime it provided temperatures 10 degrees cooler than on Hancock Street.
47 He cast doubt on the value of proponents’ petitions to the Council, recalling that he had never seen “such an effort to enlist school children on school time” in support of a PTA-sponsored project. He said he deplored the use of a pressure group “to force its will on public officials.” Walsh said he also regretted the fact that the proponents had never given him a change to be heard on the proposal before last night’s public hearing. Also opposing the pond filling proposal was Mrs. Irma C. Tilton who asserted that $36,000 was an unnecessary expenditure in view of the current need for new schools and other city projects. Gives Reason Mrs. Tilton suggested that the Central Junior High School would have to be replaced in the “near future” and that “it could not be truthfully said” that the school has no play area. She asked that the Jewish Community Center playground, which the school presently uses, be smoothed out by the city to reduces accidents and asserted that a playground in a residential neighbourhood “is not and asset.” William T. Hutchison, hockey coach at Quincy High School, Robert Lang, hockey coach at North Quincy High School and David Hourin, former hockey coach at North Quincy High testified to the value of Butler’s Pond for young budding hockey players. Miss Joan Rigby, an elementary school teacher, said she thought the present generation tends to pamper youngsters. Noting the argument that a playground on the pond sire would eliminate a long walk to Merrymount Park for after school athletics, she said: “I think we sometimes do too much for the children.” Claims Limitations She said that pupils at the junior high school would receive the benefit from a playground for only three years while residents would receive permanent benefits. It was asserted by another speaker that no health menace or odour existed at the pond. Proponents of the pan to convert the pond into a playground were headed by Edwin M. Kaufman, chairman of the Butler’s Pond committee of the Central Junior High PTA. Kaufman declared that he could find no historical significance to the pond; that he could not conceive anyone thinking it beautiful; and that it was not 3 feet deep but 10 feet deep, sufficient to cause drowning. Explaining the method by which petitions advocating the filling of the pond were circulated, Kaufman said it was done partly by students of the school following approval of the idea by the Student Council. He said that every child was informed of the nature of the project and that much of the campaigning was done by adult members of the PTAs in the city. In a later summary of the arguments as he saw them, for an against the land-taking Kaufman said that if the opponents stated the truth ; 90 per cent of them would say their basic objection was the fact that they didn’t want a playground in their vicinity with the accompanying noise of children.
48 Defends Position He defended the role of “civic-minded citizens” who were bringing in a legitimate point of view before the council but as a result were charged with having a pressure group. Harry Beede, principal of the school, said that the present grass plots outside the school were not sufficient play areas for children; particularly during recess periods; seldom does a day go by when some child is not injured playing in the community centre playground, he said. Beede pointed out that the Central Junior High was good for another 26 years and that future construction of new junior high schools at Broad Meadows and in North Quincy would not relieve the need for a school at their location. He said that in the past five years he has seen few children skating on the pond, first because of the warm winters and secondly because of rocks persistently thrown on the ice. He said that several time sin the past five years children have fallen through the ice, although none of those incidents have been fatal. 8 Pupils Tell of Injuries Three pupils of the school; all members of the Student Council then told recurrent injuries received when playing in the Community Centre Playground; the “waste of time involved in walking to Merrymount Park for sports; and their desire to see Butler’s Pond as a playground for later students at the school. Dr Joseph McDermott, officially representing the Quincy School Committee, said the city had to get $200,000 worth of service out of the Central Junior High School, that amount having been spent on renovations. “We feel that we need the school and that it is a school we can salvage and save money on,” he said. He said that if the committee could not confidently ask the council for 1.5 acres of land for the Central Junior High School then it is wrong to ask for 4.5 and 18 acres of land elsewhere for other schools. Not a Beauty Spot Fritz Strelford, president of the Central PTA said that proponents of the land-taking have tried to be fair. He said that to him the pond is “not a beauty spot.” The value of the pond would be much greater as playground for school children he declared. He said that in a telephone canvass of 40 residents in the immediate area he could find opposition from only two persons. “Are we interested in the welfare of the 750 children in or in a catch basin?” he asked. Miss Mary Pratt and Henry Conroy, physical education teachers at the school, both spoke about the limitations placed on athletic programs due to the lack of a playground at the school. Both noted the distance and inconvenience involved in using other playgrounds a half mile or a mile away and cited the convenience of a playground with showers available nearly. Conroy said a playground at the Butler’s Pond site could be used not only by school children but also pre-school children and would also be used during the summer.
49 Sports which he said could be played at such a new playground, although not all at the same time, included softball, baseball, footfall , soccer, field hockey, track and field events, volleyball, handball and tennis. Paul Fornaro, identifying himself as an abutter to the pond site, said that after he moved his present home three years ago, “the neighbour began to propagandize me that it was a beautiful pond.” Pressure Tactics Alleged “I fail to see that it is a beautiful pond,” he said. Fornaro also cited pressure by a neighbour “who knuckled me into my living room and pushed this thing down my throat.” Rep. Carter Lee, last speaker at the hearing asked if it was fair for children at the Central Junior High to be denied a playground area assessed now for less than $800 when other schools are being erected in the city at a cost of hundred of thousands of dollars. He said he felt provision for a playground “seems to be good sound common sense” and that it was better for the city to get it now rather than five or 10 years from now when it will cost more.”
Council Confers on Butler’s Pond Offer By Owner 12/20/1955 Quincy Patriot Ledger Action on the taking of Butler’s Pond for playground purposes was delayed until tonight , when John W Walsh one of the owners, appeared before the Council last night with an offer to give the property to the city provided it was developed and maintained as a pond without filling. Invited to confer Following the offer, mayor Amelio Della Chiesa invited Mr Walsh and representatives of groups interested in the proposal to confer with the council tonight on the offer . Mr and Mrs Edwin M Kaufman will represent the Quincy Junior High School PTA , which want the land taken and filled in for recreational purposes, James McGuiness, spokesperson for the former group, presented arguments to the council last night for taking the pond and maintaining it in its natural state. He pointed out that it could be used, if filled, for only a few months each year by Junior High School students . he said it made an excellent skating pond in winter and in summer it was used extensively by Scouts studying odd birds. William C Edwards, city historian urged that the pond be retained as a pond. He pointed out that it had been names for Peter Butler. Who, in the 1870s provided a skating area by damming Furnace Brook and flooding the pond. He expressed the belief that probably Dorothy Quincy once skated there. “It would be a crime to take it away from the people in the area,” he said.
50 300 sign new petition A petition carrying about 500 names of residents of the area seeking the taking, without filling was presented to the council. Mayor Della Chiesa expressed the belief that both groups might be satisfied, by some plan that would permit the retention of the pond and at the same time would devote some land for school purposes.” 1955 Council Refuses To Act On Butler’s Pond 12/21/55 The plan to convert Butler’s Pond into a playground area for Central Junior High School was buried for 1955 last night. The City Council filed the taking order after an informal conference had indicated that groups concerned were hopelessly deadlocked in their conflicting interests. Can Be Revived The order automatically expired at the end of the year as a result of last night’s disposition. The question can be revived however, by the incoming council after it is sworn in. Mayor Amelio Della Chiesa who pointed out that hundreds of citizens wanted the pond taken and filled for a school playground while other hundreds wanted the pond taken and preserved, cut the Gordian knot by suggesting that the entire matter be referred to the new planning director, who assume office next week, and that the order he filed. Compromise Suggested A proposal by the mayor that a compromise settlement be effected whereby the pond would be preserved and about half the area be titled and used for school physical education purposes failed to meet the approval of John W. Walsh, owner of the property. Mr. Walsh on the previous evening had offered to deed the property to the city if the municipality would preserve and beautify the pond. Asked by Mayor Amelio Della Chiesa last night if he would go through with his offer if the city adopted the compromise plan, Mr. Walsh said: “I doubt it.” Representative of various groups conferred with the council informally in the city manager’s office last night. Elmer Fagerlund of 124 Greenleaf Street represented several hundred residents in the area who had petitioned the council to take the property and who want if maintained and beautified as a pond in accordance with Mr. Walsh’s desires. Edwin M. Kaufman of 36 Sachem Street represented the Central junior High School PTA which wants the property taken is filled for physical education uses of the students.
51 Illuminating Exchange The sharp conflict between the aims of the two groups was illustrated by a little verbal exchange between the two spokesmen. “May I finish?” asked Mr. Kaufman of Mr. Fagerlund, when the latter interrupted the former. “I wish you would,” said Mr. Fagerlund. “If I am boring you, I am sorry,” said Mr. Kaufman. Dr. Joseph E. McDermott, Member of the Quincy School Committee, expressed the belief that the committee would lose its interest in taking the property if the area to be made available for students were reduced by retaining the pond under compromise suggested by the mayor. Principal’s Comment William Beede, school principal, said: “Anything is better than nothing.” He pointed out, however that under the compromise plan the available area would have only restricted uses. Mrs. Walsh, a submaster at North Quincy High School, asked Mr. Beede flatly if “parking” for teachers were not a factor in the movement to get the land taking. Mr. Beede contended that his was not an issue, but he did not of the limited school grounds for parking. Councilor Alfred G. Helfrich claimed that teachers at the school were putting pressure on parents by sending them communication through their children To Stake Off Lines At the suggestion of Mayor Della Chiesa, the city manager will ask the Engineering Department to stake off lines on the property marking out the suggested compromise subdivision of the property. Under this plan about half of the 57,000 square feet in the property would be used for physical education purposes while the pond would e preserved. Such a division would give the school two recreation areas, one somewhat rectangular in shape on Butler’s Road and the other an elongated area near the school lot. The council last night gave Mr. Walsh a vote of thanks for his offer to the city
Blatt Opposes taking of the pond for Playground 4/4/1956 Quincy Patriot Ledger City Manager Donald H Blatt opposing the recommendations of the planning Board, last night opposed the taking of Butlers Pond for playground purpose to add more recreation area for students at Central Junior High School.
52 To Finance Committee Mr Blatt’s communication, along with the recommendations of the Planning Board that the land be taken, were referred to the finance committee. Edwin M Kaufman of Hough’s Neck, a leader in the movement to get the land taken, pointed out that the Planning Board’s recommendation had laid on the desk of the city \manager for two and one half months before they were transmitted to the council. Mr Platt advised the council, “Although the Planning Board has recommended the taking, they have not determined any amount of cost. Rather than refer this at this time the engineering department for cost studies, I am forwarding it to the Council because it is my personal recommendation that the city should not take this property. I have no knowledge of exactly when the Central Junior High school will be abandoned, but it seems to me that the investment that would be made in Butler’s Pond could not be supported if the school is to go out of operation within the next ten years, and I have been advised that in 1946 the estimated life if the Central; Junior High School was ten years. I repeat that my recommendation is not to take this property.” Battle of Butler Pond to be fought again 5/17/1956 Quincy Patriot Ledger
The battle of Butlers Pond was refought once more before the finance committee of the City Council last night when proponents and opponents again voiced their views why they believe the pond should or should not be taken by the city and filled. Speak in favour Speaking in favour of making it into a playground for Central Junior High School students were Edwin M Kaufman, representing the Central Junior High School Parents Teachers Association,; Mrs Kaufman; Dr. Paul Goddard; Superintendent of schools; Representative Carter Lee; Charles L Sweeny School L Sweeny School Committee member; and Charles Riley past President of Quincy PTA Council. Elmer K Fagerlund, who said he represented several hundred residents living near the pond, favoured taking the land by the city and preserving it in its natural state. John Walsh, owner of the property, who has offered it to the city, concurred with Mr Fagerklund. Bernard V Dill of 108 Butler Road also favoured preservation of the pond in its [present natural state. Proponents fpr the taking and filling again pointed out that students of the Central Junior High school have little ground around the school for recreational purposes. Mr Walsh expressed the fear that if the land were taken and filled in as a playground it might be maintained in the same “disgraceful condition” in which some of the city’s playgrounds are now. Mr Raufman pointed out that the Quincy Planning Board favours the taking.
Board to ask Technical Aid in Transfer of Butler Pond 5/19/74 Quincy Patriot Ledger
Quincy – The conservation commission voted last night to proceed with an application to Nature Conservancy of New England for technical assistance in the transfer of Butler Pond to the study of the commission. The pond, which is located in the rear of Central Junior High School on Hancock Street is owned by John W Walsh of 44 Butler Road. Mr Walsh is the principal of North Quincy High School. Mr Walsh had previously indicted his desire to give the pond to the commission to be preserved in its natural state. Teachers and students of Central Junior High prepared a quantitative analysis of the pond to be used as part of the application to the Nature Conservancy. Harold Crawley, commission chairman said “we are most appreciative for the public spirited generosity of Mr Walsh and most grateful for the excellent data provided by the teachers and students of Central.”
Butler’s Pond Residents Object To Apartment 4/25/1976 Quincy – Twenty-nine residents of the Butler’s Pond area have signed a petition objecting to a Milton man’s plans to convert a two-family dwelling at 41 Butler Road to a fiveunit apartment building. In their petition, the residents say the converted building, owned by Nicholas V. Trifone, would create an eyesore, since the entire backyard would be turned into parking lot. It states that residents are upset about the transient element the apartment house would introduce into their neighbourhood. Copies of the petition were sent to the building department, Quincy Historical Society, conservation commission, Ward 1 City Councillor Leo J. Kelly and the mayor’s office. The building department has confirmed issuing a building permit for the project, noting it is located in a Residence B zone and that it does not require any special variances or permits. The petition says the residents of the butler’s Pond are “take a great deal of pride in our neighbourhood. We are fortunate to the located in the area of a National Historic landmark, the Dorothy Quincy House, and the entire neighbourhood conducts an annual cleaning of the pond to beautify it for the visitors to the Dorothy Quincy House across the street.
Appendix 2 Memo from Professor Twining re Future action
To: Tom Scott and Friends of Butler Pond
From: Jonathan E. Twining, Assistant Professor of Biology, Eastern Nazarene College Date: 11/17/2009 Re: Butler Pond restoration efforts
First of all, I want to applaud those of you that care about Butler Pond and want to see this ecosystem restored, although I fear you face an uphill battle. As I told Mr. Scott during our recent meeting, pond ecosystems in general are temporary ecosystems. Eventually, all ponds and lakes fill in and become terrestrial ecosystems, unless people like yourselves intervene and restore the pond to a fruitful condition as an aquatic ecosystem. One of my students completed an initial assessment of Butler Pond in 1999 and found that the pond suffered from two issues: Phragmites invasion and excessive phosphorus in the water column. In addition, the pond sediments contained some materials that might make it more difficult to remove the sediments to deepen the pond if that action was desired. I also know that the city made some attempts to stem the Phragmites invasion in the early 2000s. However, the Phragmites has returned and continues to plague the pond. It is extremely difficult and expensive to find a permanent solution to Phragmites once it has invaded a pond or a salt marsh. It might be feasible to cut the Phragmites on an annual basis just to reduce the eyesore, and cutting may put some stress on the Phragmites. However, this is not a long-term solution. I would recommend seeking the opinion of an environmental consulting firm or aquatic weed control company to see what current remedies might be available. In terms of phosphorus removal, further investigation is warranted to see what remedies are available now that may not have been in 1999. One method that might work is the addition of alum, but aluminum can be toxic to some aquatic invertebrates and fish. Another remedy considered back in 1999 was a floating island of plants that could soak up phosphorus from the water. Again, some on-line research would prove fruitful in seeing what remedies are currently available. I believe that before any additional work is done on the pond, there should be a comprehensive assessment of the pond including proper water quality analysis by an analytical laboratory, and a biological assessment to determine what species are utilizing the pond (including any additional invasive aquatic plants). Further sediment analysis would not be necessary unless you are going to consider removal of the sediment to deepen the pond. There are a number of analytical laboratories in the area that could analyze water samples for you, including G&L Laboratories (Quincy) and GeoLabs (Braintree). I will have to do some further investigation to see what companies might be able to do the biological assessment, but if they are still around, Comprehensive Environmental was doing good work for Rosemary Nolan, the former Quincy DPW program manager.
55 It might be possible for one or more of my students to work on an assessment of the pond as well, but this would probably not take place until next summer or fall. I have students that must complete a research project during their senior year. They will be starting to plan this project next spring. If this is something you would want to pursue, please let me know. Also, find ways to utilize Central Middle School students and other school groups that I know have already been collecting data. If I can be of further assistance in this matter, please let me know. I can be contacted at 617-745-3552 or Jonathan.Twining@enc.edu. Best, Jonathan Twining
Map 1 Surveyors Plan (circa 1943)
Photographs of relevant maps
This map shows the land still under water but the map was only filed under the date 1943; there is no corroborating date on the map itself. The map was used to delineate jurisdiction boundaries and it may be that the date 1943 relates to that process rather than to the date of the map itself.91
Map courtesy of the Engineering Department of the Quincy Department of Public Works
57 Map 2. Map of the pond (1954)
This map accompanied an assessment of the cost of filling in Butlers Pond, as a result of Mr Walsh’s offer to donate the pond to the city
In this map there is no mention of the pond on the south side of Merrymount Road (i.e. to the right of the road) and the assumption therefore is that it was already filled in by then. It also shows the limits of Mr Walsh’s home property at the time.92
Map courtesy of the Engineering Department of the Quincy Department of Public Works
58 Map 3 Surveyors Map circa 1972
This map clearly shows the property owned by the Quincy Jewish Community Centre93
Map courtesy of the Engineering Department of the Quincy Department of Public Works
Appendix 4 Deed of ownership of The Pond - Peter Butler 11/1/1871.
Appendix 5 Surveyors Plan 1890
This map shows the allocation of land to Eugene O’Connor in the will of Isabel Butler on July 28th 1900.. The plots mentioned in the will are 11, 12, 13 on the south side of Merrymount closest to the pond, a plot on Putman Road (16) plus the plot on Butler Road on the northeast side of the Pond. (30)
61 Appendix 6 Extract from Black’s Creek Newsletter August 14th 2000
PLAN TO RESTORE BUTLER POND Butler Pond is eutrophic. Reduced levels of dissolved oxygen make life for fish difficult, and high concentrations of minerals – especially phosphorus – make plant life proliferate rapidly. The 1.6 acre pond behind Central Middle school, between Merrymount Road and Butler Road, across the street from the Quincy Homestead, is practically overrun by the invasive and nonnative common reed, Phragmites, which in some places is over 12 feet tall. Butler Pond is currently in the latter stages of succession and eutrophication, “which are natural processes that takes place in a pond as it ages,” says a report prepared last December for the Quincy Department of Public Works by Eric Passhuas and professor Jonathon Twining, of Eastern Nazarene College. About three feet deep, the pond also has elevated concentrations of lead, aluminium, mercury and zinc. Sediment in the pond is increasing and soon the pond will fill up with sediment and plants. Neighbours surrounding the pond have voiced their concern. In a letter to Mayor Sheets in October 1998, they asked help in restoring the pond “to a viable beauty spot in our cleaner, greener city.” The letter also voiced concern over the wildlife that use the pond. “Butler Pond is home to a variety of wildlife, turtles, frogs, fish, damselflies, dragon flies, black crowned night herons and many other birds. An Osprey has nested and raised chicks here the past two years. This wildlife is severely threatened.” Accordingly, the Quincy Conservation Commission on Wednesday evening 19th July 2000, heard a proposal from the Department of Works to treat ad remove the Phragmites. Rosemary Nolan, Program Manager at the Department of Public Works, filed a notice of Intent before the Commission to remove the Phragmites, and announced that the DPW had secured a matching grant from $9,600 from the State’s Department of Environmental Management to remove the Phragmites by means of a herbicide. The Commission’s agenda for that evening referred to the “the treatment and removal of nonnative plant species – Phragmites – through application of non-toxic substance …(emphasis added).” Nolan also emphasized that the “non-toxic” substance, Rodeo, was “not dangerous to plants and animals,” and submitted a toxicology report, a two-page reprint from Monsanto – the chemical company that produces Rodeo – in support of that claim. The Commission approved the project, and presumably work will begin soon. Not supplied to the Commission by the DPW, but available on the internet, is information obtained from independent toxicology reports which show that Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Rodeo, is “moderately toxic by ingestion,” “poison by intraperitoneal route,” “can cause severe eye irritation,” “slight skin irritation,” and can cause “mild to moderate irritation of the nose and throat.” Furthermore, “the surfactants and other additives” used in the Glyphosate formulation may be toxic agents as well.
62 With regard to the action of the chemical on wildlife, Glyphosate is “slightly toxic to wild birds,” and while not in itself toxic to fish and honeybees, the additives combined with it are toxic. Even the Monsanto toxicology report admits that the spray, mist or drift from Rodeo must be prevented from contacting desirable vegetation, or “plant injury may occur.” It is thus a nonelective herbicide, indiscriminate in its targets. In the light of the above, the question arises, then if the Commission and the DPW have made correct representations about the toxicity of Rodeo to the Public.
Appendix 7 DPW response to W Aylward critique of actions re use of Rodeo
64 Appendix 8 Suggestions from Butler Pond Neighbours
1. Minimize fertilizer applications, which can stimulate aquatic plant and algae growth. In some extreme cases, algal growth will diminish water transparency and can cause unpleasant smelling and sometimes toxic “scum” or “algal blooms.” 2. If you do use fertilizer, make sure it's a slow release product, and stay at least 25' away from any body of water. Also, be sure you mix and apply according to the manufacturer's instructions - it's easy to over-fertilize. 3. Clean up after your pets as pet waste can contaminate surface water. 4. Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly-or not at all. When it comes to landscaping and lawn care, there are many available alternatives to chemicals. If you do choose to use fertilizer, use a low (in the 2-3% range) or no-phosphorus fertilizer. Large amounts of phosphorus in runoff will contribute to algal blooms in the pond. A bag of 10-3-10 mixture means that the blend contains 10% nitrogen, 3% phosphorous and 10% potash. 5. Fertilizing in the spring is not necessary if you fertilized in the late fall. Fall fertilizing promotes deep rooting and hardy lawns. Wait to apply until the average daily temperature drops to about 50o F everyday for at least a week. 6. For increased accuracy in fertilizer applications, use a drop spreader model rather than a rotary spreader. If you cannot purchase, or find a drop spreader model, then be sure to sweep, not hose off, fertilizers, grass clippings, and soils, off paved driveways, sidewalks, or other impenetrable surfaces, to prevent them from being washed into the nearby pond. 7. For people living near the pond, washing vehicles at a commercial car wash can reduce the amount of soapy water heading into the pond. Soap can act like a fertilizer when it gets into a pond, causing weed and algae growth. If you really need to wash your car at home, do it on the lawn or on a gravel drive. 8. In the winter time, do more shovelling and use less salt. Throwing down salt may be an easy way to get rid of snow and ice, but it can pollute the pond. It also isn't good for trees and grass. If you can shovel your driveway and sidewalk before the snow gets packed down and icy, you won't have to use salt. If the pavement is still icy, use sand or sand mixed with salt.
Sketch of the Organic Filter (part of the pond restoration plan)
You tube Butler’s Pond video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9osRHKKXk5w Eliza Susan Quincy memoir http://books.google.com/books?id=drRiAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source= gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false 300 years of Quincy History http://www.gridleybryant.com/Historical/300-Years-of-Quincy-WilsonSEARCHABLE.pdf