BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Maudslay State Park is one of the most revered resources in this community, and a band of volunteers is accelerating its efforts to clean and enhance the park’s flowering reflection pond so it can retain its historic beauty.
“The pond needs work,” said Marlys Edwards, who heads a restoration committee of the Maudslay State Park Association. “Trees and branches have fallen into the pond, and it has filled with sludge now that it is in a stagnant state.
“It can be such a beautiful spot and we hope to bring together the resources to improve its condition.”
Maudslay covers about 450 acres on the bank of the Merrimack River.
The park was created from the estate of Frederick Strong Moseley, the son of Edward Strong Moseley (1813-1889), a wealthy Boston banker and a leading citizen in the city. In 1985, the property was acquired by the state Department of Environmental Management. It offers parking, and in season, visitors can find some of the most colorful bushes, flowers and fruit trees on the North Shore.
The park offers scores of trails for hikers, bikers, naturalists and horse riders.
But time doesn’t stand still for century-old ponds and the three-arc bridge that goes over it.
Association members say that bridge must be strengthened. Stonework, both above and below the water line, has fallen off and deteriorated. So one of next steps is to obtain bids for the actual restoration work for the bridge.
The attention that the pond needs is more complex.
Water runoff and flooding rains have carried sediment and nutrients into the pond. Because the water is not moving, the lack of oxygen has affected native plants and other aquatic life.
With warm weather coming, association members are reaching out to state officials and to private donors for financial help for dredging, stone work and other projects.
“I am aware of the effort,” said state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, whose district includes Newburyport. “And I have said that I will write a letter of support and help in other ways.”
O’Connor Ives said that the Department of Conservation and Recreation has been active in the effort, and will continue to provide support.
The DCR recently awarded the association $16,000 in matching funds for restoration of the pond. In addition to the $16,000, the association has raised about $8,000 for the upcoming stage.
“This grant will start Phase 2 of the restoration,” said state Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport, in a statement. “I look forward to seeing the pond returned to its historic significance.”
Still, dredging costs could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, so with warm weather coming the association is restarting its fundraising engines.
“There is great love for the park,” said Terry Berns, president of the association. “We’ve had generous support in the past, and I think those who enjoy Maudslay will continue to get behind the pond project.”
Berns said the pond was once clear with a white sand bottom, and filled with fish and frogs. The goal is to restore the pond to its former condition, so today’s visitors can “reach back to a bygone era of quiet beauty.”
Information about how to provide financial support can be found at the group’s website: www.maudslayassociation.org.