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  Pond Committee Study Report      

Brief Over View:   Rye Town Park gathered Community members and leaders to examine the issue of removing the wire fence that encloses the duck pond. This committee included: Chris Cohan, Jamie Jensen, Ann Moller, Kathy Savolt, Diana Paige, and Laurence Vargas.

Committee Study Approach: The committee met twice: 9/17/2018 and 10/10/2018. In addition, Jamie Jensen, Chris Cohan and Kathy Savolt walked the park separately and asked residents their thoughts. Jamie attended the October Friends of Rye Town Park Meeting to learn more about pond care and what the friends have planned for the coming year. The Town office provided budget, pictures, and historical materials that were on file. To view the committee's entire report, please click here.

                      The History of the Pond At Rye Town Park

                                               A Brief Overview by Bill Lawyer - July 2013

When the Town of Rye Acquired the 62 acre Rye Town Park
property in 1908, it contained a number of bungalows, semi-permanent tents, and
other structures suitable for use during the summer months. There are no records of any pond existing on the property at
that time. 

The topography and underlying bedrock determined, nevertheless,
that there would be a natural vernal pond and wetlands at the pond’s current
location.  Rainwater flowed there from
the north, west and southern directions. During heavy rains or storms, there was an outflow stream
that delivered water to the sound via a small “valley” on the southeastern end
of the pond. During the fall, winter and spring there was enough
precipitation to support an active population of wetland flora and fauna.   Lacking a steady inflow of  “upstream” water, vernal ponds dry out in the
late spring or early summer.

At some point after 1909 a formal, oval-shaped reflecting pond
was created.  Historical post-card photos
show this pond being in existence at least by the mid-1920’s. 

the proposed pond was referred to as the “Crystal
Lake.”  A few years later storm drains
were constructed along Forest Avenue, which directed rainwater run-off more
directly to the pond. 

Photos of the pond show people walking along paths enjoying
views of the water.  The lake/pond was
used in winter for informal ice-skating and ice hockey. 

Because of the seasonal nature of the flow of water into the
pond, however, it frequently filled up with sediment and decomposing plants and
algae.  

In the 1980’s, the Rye Town Park Commission decided to
“shrink” the pond to create additional space for overflow parking.  They filled in much of the pond, leaving only
a small portion of the southern end, along with the waterfowl gazebo. 

Unfortunately, the outcome was that the rainwater continued
to drain downhill, making the proposed parking area too damp and muddy for that
use. 

 And the remaining duck pond became a putrid, polluted
“toilet.” The condition of the pond was one of the main reasons for
the formation of the Friends of The Rye Town Park in 1991.  They sought to restore and upgrade the park’s
facilities and grounds, including the pond. While many improvements were made over the years, upgrading
the pond was held off until enough funding was available.

Thanks to a Grant of nearly $500,000 from a New York DEC
grant, along with $150,00 from private donations were raised by 2003.  The DEC funding was part of a nation-wide
effort to improve water quality through the federal Clean Water Act. The DEC funding was awarded on the condition that the
renovated pond be designed and created to manage the flow of rainfall through
the pond and out into Long Island Sound. 
This included restoring the pond to its original size of about one acre,
but creating two separate pond areas, intersected by a “peninsula.” Native plantings were to be established to help remove the
high levels of nitrogen that was contributing to the serious decrease in the
oxygen levels of the pond and Long Island Sound.    A low-wattage “bubbler” was to be installed
along the east side of the pond and a trickling waterfall on the west side to
help add oxygen to the pond water. 

Work began in 2004 and was completed in 2005.  For the first few years the pond functioned
well, as designed.  However, after
several hot, dry summers the water levels declined and the pond became clogged
with algae and duckweed. In addition, stocking the pond with domestic ducks had
greatly increased the nitrogen level of the pond, adding to the growth of
algae.  And during cold winters the
domestic ducks had to be rescued when the pond froze. 

Following the lead of the Central Park Conservancy, the park
staff and Friends purchased higher-powered aerators to replace the bubbler, and
they added a circulator to oxygenate the water on the southern part of the
pond. Each fall and winter the Friends of Rye Town Park hires landscape workers to cut
back the dead vegetation, to stop it from decomposing and adding to nutrient
overload. Even so, on dry, hot summers algae blooms continued to cause
problems.

 In 2011 the park determined that we needed a professional
pond management contractor, to fine-tune the treatment within the limits of DEC
regulations.  In response to an rfp, we
hired the Pond Lake Connection Company. 
They carry out water quality testing and use a variety of biological and
chemical products to reduce algae while protecting life in the pond.  Native wildlife, such as turtles wild
waterfowl and macro invertebrates helped as well. So far the pond’s quality
levels are in the acceptable to good range. 

Finally, in 2015 the Friends of Rye Town Park worked with a local wildlife group
to find homes for the pond’s domestic ducks, leaving only the mallards, which
were not dependent on the public for food.  

POND IMPROVEMENT PLAN 
Rough Chronology of Pond History at Rye Town Park
Compiled by Bill Lawyer – August 2010

1909-1910 -              

Pond developed from marshy area – about 1 acre (43,000 sq ft). Used for skating in winter;

1980’s -          

Pond and fenced area reduced to 11,000 sq ft – became known as the “Duck Pond.”

1999 -

Town of Rye submits grant application to the NY DEC to “expand the duck pond to its original size, and thereby to expand its capacity to serve as a natural drainage and retention basis to reduce nonpoint source pollution from the park.” 

2000 -

February, Grant Proposal denied

2001 – 

Town of Rye resubmits its proposal

2002 –

February – Grant award announced -  “$489,675 to restore Park Pond to its original size of 56,000 square feet and improve fish and wildlife habitats by planting native vegetation and using water oxygenation techniques. The goal is to reduce nitrogen levels in the pond, which flows into the Sound.”

 October – Contract for grant signed by Town of Rye

Project Management and Design: Chris Cohan – Design & Management; Rita Wong – Design; Sven Hoeger of Creative Habitat – Plantings Design and Management.

2003-

July – Town of Rye receives executed contract; Letter from DEC stating that “the Town of Rye is permitted to initiate construction.”

2004-

February – bids received for construction and landscaping of pond project: awarded to Real Life Land Improvements (they subcontracted the fencing work);                       

May – Work begun

October – Most Work Completed

2005 – 

Final Grant Payments Received; project completed except for DEC Required Five year monitoring.

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