BERLIN – Scientists spent this week taking samples from the ponds at Berlin Falls Park.
Since the town purchased the 60-plus acre former industrial property last year, residents have been eager to see it redeveloped into a public space to serve a variety of interests. Officials have been quick to point out that the extensive parcel will require plenty of thought and careful planning. They have, however, acknowledged that the three ponds on the property have proven to be one of the property’s major points of interest. In an effort to determine the state of those ponds, the town has partnered with Thriving Earth Exchange to test for bacteria.
“That’ll help us best understand how to go about remediating the ponds,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said.
While soil testing has been performed on the former Tyson property before, the ponds themselves weren’t the focal point of that testing, Allen said. On Monday however, marine scientists Michael Stephens and Anna DeGeorge of EA Engineering, Science and Technology started taking land elevations around the ponds to create digital elevation models. They returned later in the week to launch a boat, taking depth and sediment samples from the center of each pond.
Allen said the town had a contract with EA Engineering to perform a geotechnical analysis of the ponds to aid in planning for remediation. By working with volunteer scientists from Thriving Earth Exchange, an organization that partners scientists with community leaders to solve environmental challenges, the town has arranged for sediment collected from the ponds to be tested and analyzed.
Allen is hoping to have the testing results within a month. Knowing exactly what’s in the soil will enable the town to improve the area.
“Ultimately, the town’s interested in using those ponds in a more overt way,” Allen said. “The challenge has been to understand better what’s in the sediment there.”
Once the analysis is complete, the town will be able to explore remediation measures. Mayor Gee Williams has indicated that once the town has a plan for remediation, it will be able to investigate grant options for the work.