Neighbors Unite to Restore Local Pond in Exeter

Margaret Mead once wrote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Combine those committed citizens with progressive town leaders, university researchers and community planners and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Brickyard Pond, a 1.8 acre pond along Kingston Road in Exeter, has long been a community icon. In the not so recent past, there were walking trails around the pond, local Boy Scouts held fishing derbies and the pond and adjacent park provided residents with recreation opportunities and a quiet spot to enjoy the outdoors.Over the past several years the condition of the pond has been on the decline, each summer the pond is covered in a green scum of algae and it has a stinky odor.

Brickyard Pond in 2012, photo from Exeter Town Crier

In June 2012 the residents of the Marshall Farms Crossing neighborhood approached the town about the pond’s condition and wanted to know what they could do to help improve their neighborhood jewel. Exeter’s Environmental Planner, Kristen Murphy, saw this as a great opportunity to expand the already established Think Blue Exeter effort and employ some of the techniques she’d learned through various workshops she’d attended.

“Its super exciting to have the neighborhood initiate contact. I attribute a lot of my interest for the project to the Rain Garden Installation workshop that Candace Dolan [Hodgson Brook Restoration Project] put on.  She just makes it seem so do-able!”

At the same time the Green Infrastructure for NH Coastal Communities Project was looking for Phase 1 towns so Kristen applied for the grant and got it! The Green Infrastructure Project Team is made up of technical experts from University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center, Geosyntec, staff from the Southeast Watershed AllianceRockingham Planning CommissionAntioch University and Great Bay NERR. The project links experts with interested town leaders and citizens for education, outreach and on the ground implementation. The town of Exeter’s team includes Kristen, Department of Public Works’ Phyllis Duffy, Ginny Raub from the Conservation Commission and Pete Richardson from the Conservation Commission and the Exeter Squamscott River Local Advisory Committee.

On August 18th, the project team hosted a Stormwater Clinic &

Block Party for the Marshall Farms Crossing neighborhood. Usingwatershed maps and PREP’s watershed model they showed residents how their property flows and drains into Brickyard Pond. They explained how a stormdrain works, how

in-situ water quality monitors work and what they detect, explained some water friendly lawn care practices and how to install a rain barrel. There were 5 homes that are interested in installing rain gardens so Jeff Hyland, an engineer from Ironwood Design Group, toured the property to prepare the plans for installation.

August 18th Block Party

“This program was great because through the Green Infrastructure Project we had access to these expert resources to deliver some amazing products (watershed map/model, in-situ monitor, rain garden installation info, etc.) and to help us build our confidence and have a nice sturdy expert-backbone to support us,” Kristen explained.

Up next, there’ll be rain garden installations at neighborhood homes in mid-September, storm drain stenciling by the Exeter scouts and Kristen has been contacted by adjacent neighborhoods who would like to be involved in the project. Way to go Exeter!

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.