City ready to start dredging downtown ponds

Dredging is about to get underway at Milford’s duck ponds, which haven’t been dredged in about 40 years.

“They are ready to start,” said Public Works Director Chris Saley. “We have to do one more testing of soils just to make sure that they're clean.”

Dredging equipment is in place at the North Street pond, and the area has been closed to the public. The North Street pond is the first of three to be dredged. Next will be the City Hall pond and then the pond behind Stonebridge Restaurant.

The dredging is being done for several reasons. It’s cheaper to dredge the ponds than to dredge the harbor, which is where the silt and debris flow along the Wepawaug River, Mayor Ben Blake said as the project was being approved. Dredging the ponds is a “preventive” measure in keeping the harbor from filling in so quickly.

The project is also being done for aesthetic reasons, the mayor said, calling the ponds “the gems of the downtown area.”

Millennium Builders is doing the dredging.

The ponds, which in some areas look to have a depth of just a couple of inches, will be taken to a six- to eight-foot depth, according to Saley. The depth will be gradual, he said.

The process will involve removing 500 cubic yards at a time and allowing that material to “de-water” at the pond site. That means the water in the material will be allowed to seep back into the pond. Then the material will be taken to property that the city voted to purchase on Oronoque Road.

Saley expects the dredging to be done around May, but said it is weather dependent.

Original plans also called for dredging the pond at Eisenhower Park, which was once a swimming pond and part of a camp at the park. The mayor said the city would still like to dredge that pond but it is assumed there will not be enough money. He also said there are no current plans to make the pond a swimming hole as it was in the 1970s, but he added that it could be considered sometime in the future.