The Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee is pleased to announce the 8th Annual Easthampton WinterFest has begun. We admit that the event looks a bit different this year, but we wanted to do something to bring our wonderful community together for a little safe fun this year. Many activities will take place in the weeks leading up to Feb. 13th, our official WinterFest date.
Most of our events will be VIRTUAL, allowing participants to join in the fun from home, or in small family circles. Our theme this year is simple - - - LOVE. Love the pond, love our community and love each other. It's fitting that WinterFest often falls on Valentine's Day weekend and love is in the air.
Enter contests for the best Window Displays, Snowflake Making, Pond Photo, and sponsored events including naming a new ice cream flavor for Mt. Tom's Ice Cream, creating a winning snow sculpture with Valley Paddlers. Take a walk in the woods at Arcadia and discover snow fleas (yes, they are a thing!). Are you a trivia fanatic? Enter our Pond Trivia contest. Love a good Scavenger Hunt? We've got that, too. There is something for everyone at WinterFest!!!
WinterFest has been our main fundraiser for the last seven years, and we have relied on the funds raised through local business and resident support to help us care for the pond. We are an advisory committee to the city and do not receive any funds through our city government for important pond health projects. We work collaboratively with our mayor's office, city planning department, park and rec department, local conservation commission, DPW, city health department, CPA (Community Preservation Act) committee and other supporters. If you would like to become a sponsor of WinterFest, you can download a form here.
Check out our calendar of activities here.
They say it takes a village . . . . It sure does, especially when working out the logistics of the long standing tradition of creating a visual lighting display on the pond. A group of semi-secret "elves" led by Mike LaValley, owner of The Brass Cat, made sure that the tree shined its light for all to see for more than twenty years. After a year's absence, a number of volunteers decided to bring the tradition back and worked hard to gather supplies and labor to make it happen.
In late November, a tree was once again donated by Mrs. Mumblo who had a Christmas Tree Farm for many years in town. The Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee, led by Paul Nowak, Pat Brough from Finck and Perras Insurance Co., volunteers and equipment from Williston Northampton School, Chief Alberti from the Easthampton Police Dept. and Dan Whiteley, of Whiteley Electric who supplied the technical lighting knowledge and electrical power made it all happen. Paul put his boat captain license to good work as he guided the tree by boat to its resting spot.
The pond lighting display joins the light on Mt. Tom as a symbol. Let the light shine each night as we keep in mind what a wonderful, caring community we are lucky to have. Pasqualina Azzarello, our City Arts Coordinator, says it best. . . "Easthampton, a little city with a big heart."
Are you scratching your head thinking about what to get the special people on your holiday shopping list this year? Look no more! We are excited to say the our Pond Bags are back in stock and available in the following shops:
Cottage Street Cultural District:
Water's Fine Goods & coffee
Wedgeworks Art & Home
The Boutique Easthampton Crystal & Mineral Shop
Sonnet and Sparrow
Comic's N More
The Mill District
Vintage Cellar East (Keystone)
Big Bear Used Books and Café (Keystone)
Our reusable shopping bags are well-made, feature the art of Michael Henry (winner of our 2019 Photo Contest), and generously made possible by local business support.
Gift them to your boss, your neighbor, family members who miss living in Easthampton, service providers -- and don't forget to pick up a few for yourself! Please support our local businesses and shop local this year, and every year. All proceeds go directly to support the health of Nashawannuck Pond.
May your holidays be thoughtful, bright and full of love!
Image credit: Easthampton Planning Dept.
After many months of planning, the dredging of both the White Brook and Broad Brook siltation basins will begin on October 5, 2020. The Easthampton Planning Department and Department of Public Works is administering the work. Funding for the project was secured through the Community Preservation Act (CPA) and the Nashawannuck Pond Committee's various fundraising activities. During the dredging work, some trails, including the popular Toteman Trail, may be temporarily unavailable. Attached is a helpful flyer which describes the scope of the project, along with an anticipated timeline for completion.
Early this week, the pond committee was notified by the Easthampton Health Department of a possible cyanobacteria concern reported by a resident. In accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health protocol, an image of the area was sent to the state for further inspection. Upon review, the state determined that there could be a "possible presence of cyanobacteria (algae) cells that may exceed the MDPH guidelines for recreational waterbodies in Massachusetts." The MDPH recommended posting public advisories at all access points of the ponds to notify residents that water should be avoided until further testing could be done over a two week period. Signs are now posted on both Nashawannuck Pond and Lower Mill Pond.
In August 2019 Nashawannuck Pond was closed abruptly due to a visual inspection of a possible cyanobacteria presence. While no cyanobacteria was found after subsequent testing, the action prompted the pond committee to work with city departments to develop a protocol should there be future issues. Working with the Mayor's Office, the Board of Health and the Public Works Department, the committee identified ways to 1) keep the city vigilant regarding water flow and removal of debris quickly, 2) perform expedient and appropriate tests for cyanobacteria as soon as it is suspected. Any costs for testing would be absorbed by the pond committee.
On Thursday, August 6, 2020, pond committee chair, Paul Nowak, collected the water samples from Nashawannuck Pond and drove them to Northeast Laboratories in Berlin Connecticut where they will test for the existence or nonexistence of cyanobacteria. Upon the state's recommendation, we will also pay to test for the presence of microcystins. The report will be presented to the Easthampton Health Department within a 24 turnaround. If the results are negative, a second test will be done seven days later. If both tests are within acceptable limits, the state will be notified and the ban lifted, allowing residents to enjoy the pond, and a local boat rental business return to normal operations.
For more information about Nashawannuck pond, please visit our FAQ page.
Late in the summer of 2019, the pond committee was made aware of the sudden closure of the pond in response to the possibility of a cyanobacteria bloom being present. At the time, the health department followed state protocol which was to send images of a suspected area to the state for visual inspection. This resulted in its closure and delayed reopening which affected residents and businesses from being on the pond. Subsequent water tests were negative for the bacteria.
The committee reviewed the protocol (August 28, 2019 minutes) to help create a pro-active response should this be an ongoing concern in future years. The Easthampton Board of Health has released the new protocol which allows the Nashawannuck Pond Committee to test the water for cyanobacteria before reporting a possible bloom through image identification. The cost for testing would be paid by the pond committee made possible by our ongoing fundraising efforts throughout the year.
The protocol is available on the city website and is attached below. We are pleased to work collaboratively with our city to benefit Easthampton residents and businesses who depend on continued access to our beautiful pond.
Family Clean Up Day!
Due to COVID-concerns, the Nashawannuck Pond Committee will not be organizing a City-Wide Clean Up Day event this year. Instead, we decided to get creative using Litterati, an app that empowers individuals to make a significant, measurable impact on the environment by picking up and documenting trash.
During the month of May we will hold the first-ever virtual Easthampton Virtual Clean up MONTH. Our goal will be to engage individuals and families to clean up neighborhood trash and document findings using the Litterati app. At the end of the month we will gather the data, sharing it with city departments and organizations, to brainstorm ways to mitigate future littering.
Please keep your group to your immediate family. This is not intended to be a time for group student activities.
The coronovirus may have closed our school buildings, but that doesn't mean we can't find interesting ways to engage our students in meaningful ways. Are you running out of creative ways to bring the classroom to your students while school is closed? Easthampton Virtual City-Wide Clean Up Month can help!
Charge up your smart phone, grab some trash bags and gloves, gather your family, and walk your neighborhood in search of litter. Let your student help capture the picture, name it (#sodabottle, #cigarette, #plasticstraw) and upload it to the Litterati database. Your litter will be geo-tagged and the precise location logged.
Here's how to participate: DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS