The frustration emanating from a longtime resident was palatable at the tail end of the Marblehead Select Board meeting on Wednesday night.
Biff Martin, the Marblehead Model Yacht Club commodore, over the years has advocated for the town to address the hole-riddled cement and asphalt paths outlining Redd’s Pond.
“I get so wound up about this,” he told the Select Board. “I want to get the sidewalk patched up for at least the rest of the season without a big deal. Can you tell me who is supposed to fix it?”
Marblehead Park and Recreation Commission’s public meeting minutes detail Martin’s registered concerns about the state of Redd’s Pond as far back as 2018.
When holes do get filled in, they open back up, Martin said.
“Last summer, one of [our model yacht club] members – 82 years old – twisted and fell on his face directly on the hot-top,” Martin said, “Now he is afraid of walking there.”
Martin inspired Judy Gates, who came to the meeting for another matter, to register her own opinion on the public pond.
“I’ve lived three doors down from Redd’s Pond and walked past it numerous times. My kids ice skated on it. It’s part of our lives, with the sailing and so forth. And that’s been fun for so many years,” she said. “So I sort of feel a special interest in it too and have been disappointed, frankly, how uncared for it has been.”
Redd’s Pond, a natural body of water located off Pond Street, covers 1.81 acres and offers skating in the winter and model boat races in the summer.
“The pond is bordered on the Old Burial Hill side by rock outcroppings that slope right to the pond edge. A walkway, which is in poor condition, lines the north and west sides of the pond leading from the burial ground around to Pond Street,” reads the Marblehead Reconnaissance Report. “The wall and the walkway were built in 1934 as part of Workers Progress Administration projects.”
Moses Grader, the Select Board chairman, called the pond a town jewel.
“It deserves our complete attention,” he said, adding that patches and hole-filling would not suffice in the long term.
“There’s been a slippage between, you know, who actually owns it,” Grader said. “And that’s just from a maintenance point of view. I’m also aware there are probably structural issues with the sidewalk.”
He added, “There’s really degradation under that, so we are thinking about ways to do something that’s on a feasibility basis that we talked about with the prior town administrator.”
The Marblehead Fiscal Year 2022-26 Capital Improvement Project lists $75,000 for Redd’s Pond Walkway Improvements under the Fiscal Year 2023 column.
“The town spends millions of dollars on every fancy park, ” Martin said. “We need to make it so that nobody is going to twist their ankel and fall in [the pond].”
He noted a 2015 incident where a man using a scooter hit crack and fell in the pond.
“The pond is named for Wilmot Redd, a fishwife, known as Mammy who was tried and hung in the 1692 Witch Trials of Salem,” reads the town’s reconnaissance report. “A stone in memory of Mammy Redd, was installed at the edge of the burial ground, set back somewhat from the pond in the late 20th century.”