NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

May 24, 2013

Slowly, Frog Pond is getting its lustre back

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — “Way to go Kenny!” I shouted when I read the details of “Bartlet Mall Commission gets $10,000 grant “ in Wednesday’s Daily News.

The grant is by way of the trustees of the Kenneth L. Bowlen Charitable fund, and it’s exactly what Kenny, a friend of many years, would have done.

He left us a few years back after a lifetime of contributions of his skills to the Anna L. Jaques Hospital and whatever else was needed - not the least of them having been the removal and restoration of the ancient Bartlet Mall fountain a quarter of century ago.

Why did I shout?

The Bartlet Mall Frog Pond is dead for lack of nourishment because of what has been left undone for much too long.

So were the frogs.

The fountain hasn’t been fountaining because the pump hasn’t been pumping. The last time it did there wasn’t much more than a trickle reaching the trio of swans reaching skyward.

Once snowy white with water cascading over them during the sun by day and flood lights by night they were a sight to behold.

Even from a distance, the sight is deplorable.

That’s not the case with the Mall as a whole.

Walk the paths around it, or just sit and appreciate the splendor of its overall beauty and the views are truly uplifting.

The pond’s present condition, however, is a disgrace to the past, and a challenge to the present. In use since the early 1600s, it became the park we know from a plan in 1887 by Charles Eliot that was improved in great part only a few years past.

It’s not so with the pond, however, and what has become of its life supporting fountain. This gift by the trustees of the Kenneth L. Bowlen Charitable Fund is essential to restoring life to the pond and grace to its setting.

As for restoration, it would be most helpful if someone could recall the details of what I remember to have been an annual treatment of the pond then a boat carrying a bag over its stern would be rowed around it.

Whatever the bag contained provided for an environment that nurtured frogs and other pond life.

That hasn’t been done for some years. Because of that and the breakdown of the fountain’s contribution has left the pond stagnant.

We did what needed be done and it worked for most of the recent pass.

The upside of the present rests with the dedication of Walter Thomson and his committee members and volunteers to get done what needs doing.

That’s an environmental question dealing with water quality to a habitat that depends on us.

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Bill Plante is a staff columnist.