Recreation Commission Reviews Springs Brook Park Season, Looks to the Future

Springs Brook Park, ready for the winter

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

A subcommittee, originally formed to determine whether Springs Brook would open last summer, is scheduled to make long-term recommendations about the park in December. While awaiting that report, Recreation Director Amy Hamilton and Recreation Commission members discussed last season and their thoughts for the future at their meeting last Wednesday night.

Hamilton said that water clarity was much improved last summer compared to previous years as a result of better quality, larger-grain sand that was introduced to replace finer sand on the beach and pond bottom. But, in the last two weeks of August, the water became murky, giving rise to renewed concerns.

“It was crystal clear early on…It was gorgeous—better than I’ve seen it in my life. But, at the end of August, it got cloudy again,” said Hamilton. “Here we were saying ‘Isn’t it great, it settled out’ but something didn’t settle out or something happened in the environment that made it cloudy again at the end of the summer.”

Hamilton continued, “We made enormous strides from the year before in terms of clarity and just being able to function better at the Park. But how do we get to the next step? And if we’ve done the best we can with a sand-swap, then we have to shift gears and try something else.”

Describing the Commission’s fears as two-fold, Hamilton explained why the search continues for further improvement. “Our concern is that it won’t be as clear next summer as it was last summer— [the DPW] tells us that debris that gets in there over the winter can’t be removed. They can’t get vehicles in there anymore to scrape the bottom like they used to so whatever is in there is going to sit there and make it more murky next summer. And, also the fact that we weren’t 100% there last year. Even if we had it as good as last year, we still want to go to the next step.”

Recreation Commission Chair Ron Richter agreed, saying going backward is not an option. “We have to be at least as good as last year, if not better, and we have to figure out how to do that.”

Hamilton said, “I hope we can at least look at the different options we might have, like putting more concrete or paving down on the [pond] bottom. I don’t want, in December, to be in the same spot as we were in last year, saying we don’t have time to do anything.”

DPW Director Rich Warrington, it was reported, was very pleased with the progress made by swapping out the types of sand. His department has taken additional measures to keep trash and grit out of the swimming area. “What they’ve done is erect a ‘silt fence’ around the perimeter of the pond to help ‘stuff’ from blowing in over the winter,” Hamilton said. “They also drained it down in the fall and they haven’t drained down [that early] for years.”

Other strategies offered by committee members for maintaining gains in water clarity include vacuuming or manually raking out winter debris, forming a town resident volunteer clean-up crew, and adding another layer of sand at the beginning of each season.

At the end of the discussion, Hamilton reported that she believes, from preliminary numbers, that Springs Brook Park broke even last season.

Commission member Robin Steele responded, “After everything we went through, that’s huge.”

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October 15, 2012 1:42 pm

Great update, thank you! Springs Brook Park is a wonderful amenity to the town and often see as a “value add” when people are considering making Bedford their home. I’m so pleased that the good work done by the DPW, the Rec Dept and Rec Commission is being recognized as such. I’m also thrilled to learn that the town is committed to keeping the park available going forward. In my opinion, SBP is a gem, and the recent work there to refresh the park provides yet another example of this small town pulling together for the good of the community. Thank you.

October 15, 2012 1:24 pm

Thank you for this update. In my view, having Springs Brook remain open in the summer is vitally important. It’s a great place to go multiple times in the summer with the family and we should do whatever it takes as a community to ensure its availability.