, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 24, 2013

A fowl matter

Plan afoot to end bird feeding at Bartlet Mall

NEWBURYPORT - Members of the Bartlet Mall Commission have voted to seek permission to ask residents to stop feeding the birds, and for public services crews to cut back on lawn-mowing efforts.

The goal is to reduce the amount of waste runoff that is evidently polluting Frog Pond, the centerpiece waterway of Bartlet Mall.

“The volunteers of the Bartlet Mall Commission are working to bring frogs back to the Frog Pond (so named in 1645),” Walt Thompson, chairman of the commission, commented after a recent meeting.

Feeding the birds is a popular pastime at Bartlet Mall. People are often seen throwing bread to ducks in the pond.

But the quality of the water in the pond, a natural “kettle hole” that was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago, has been suspect for years. The pond is in a steep gully with no natural way to drain and refresh itself.

“There are materials in the water and sediment of the Frog Pond which appear to be harmful to people” and other living things, Thompson said. He said the commission is seeking methods to reduce waste runoff so that wildlife and vegetation can return.

Commission members say they will ask the city to not cut the grass on the steep hillsides like along High and Greenleaf streets. Members say this will allow runoff water to better diffuse into the soil before it gets to the Frog Pond. Mowing will continue as usual in the flat areas of the Mall.

Also, the panel wants to reduce waterfowl fecal matter in the water by asking for funds from the community (with approval by the city) to post small signs asking passersby not to feed the ducks or gulls. The hope is that there will be fewer birds attracted to the park.

Mall members say the Conservation Commission does not get involved in remediation project such as this.

And the municipal Health Department does not have jurisdiction over the Frog Pond because it is not designated as a swimming area, they say.

“This means that the Bartlet Mall Commission searches out possible solutions on its own,” said Thompson.

Requests will be forwarded to appropriate city officials in coming weeks, commissioners say.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Special Features