Consultants EA Engineering and town officials fielded a stream of public comments during the first major community meeting on Warner’s Pond since the Natural Resources Commission announced it will no longer put removal of the pond’s dam on the 2024 Town Meeting warrant.
The Town House session featured a slide deck that laid out the pros and cons of various approaches to dealing with the locally beloved pond, which is growing shallower and choked with aquatic plants.
Last week’s meeting also featured an exposition of why the Natural Resources Division supports dam removal, including eliminating the invasive plants, improving water quality, reconnecting miles of upstream waterways and shrinking the 100-year flood plain.
Presenters argued that contrary to some abutters’ fears, West Concord would not be left with a “mud puddle” if the dam were gone — an operation for which the town could avail itself of grants — and that there would be opportunities for continued recreation, albeit of a different kind than on a large pond.
But many who attended in person and tuned in virtually pushed back hard at the idea of draining most of the pond by knocking out the dam, which was last replaced in 2008.
Several spoke with deep feeling about what the pond has meant to them and their families — the views, the skating and paddling, the sense of community — that fast-moving water just couldn’t offer, and that Warner’s provides even when Walden Pond is jam-packed.
Others said they just don’t buy the notion that shrinking the pond might actually bring more recreational opportunities, or expressed frank concerns about the effect on their quality of life and home values.
The town invited attendees to participate in a survey, ranking their priorities when it comes to the fate of the pond and dam.