Pondicherry Park – Truly a Town Park
Loon Echo has finished the conservation easement document that will forever preserve Pondicherry Park and its natural qualities. The Town of Bridgton’s Board of Selectmen voted to approve the easement and management plan on May 22, after four months of meetings between Loon Echo, Town and Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) representatives. The easement will protect the Park’s water resources, including the 5,000 feet of stream frontage along the Stevens and Willett Brooks and the tranquil Kneeland Spring. It will also protect the floodplain and upland forests that are now home to many species of plant and animal life, including mink, beaver, otter, turtles, fisher, fox and deer to name just a few.
The conservation easement also supports important public recreational and educational values. There are nearly three miles of walking trails in the Park today, and the footprint of these low-impact pedestrian trails will not greatly expand beyond this scope. The easement also allows for a picnic pavilion and six picnic tables to be located throughout the Park.
The Park now features a newly developed dog trail that, Loon Echo, after listening to the community’s desires, advocated that such use be permitted in a section of the Park. The easement outlines a specific “zone” and loop trail that will allow dog walking, and in the future, once the trail is better equipped, bicycles. This new “dog trail” will be open to the public sometime in June of 2012, when Park property is gifted to the Town and simultaneously a conservation easement is granted to Loon Echo.
A Town of Bridgton Pondicherry Park Stewardship Committee will be formed to work with the Park Department’s staff on the maintenance and management of the property. Loon Echo and LEA will appoint one member each to this five person committee. The committee, once formed, will be oriented to the conservation easement and associated management plan that will govern the Park’s use and care. The educational programming within the Park will continue to expand as the Town’s various organizations seek out this quiet oasis.
“Loon Echo is extremely pleased with the support that the Selectmen, citizens and project donors showed throughout this process. We are looking forward to turning the page to a new chapter in the life of Pondicherry Park,” said Executive Director Carrie Walia.