The City of Chicopee has been awarded two grants totaling $287,000 to help offset the costs associated with the breach and removal of the Lower Bemis Pond Dam at Szot Park.
The City received a $165,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to be used for design and engineering work. The City also received $122,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) 319 Nonpoint Source Grant program. This money will be used for stormwater management and stream restoration.
The Lower Bemis Pond Dam was originally constructed around 1862 in order to flood the area upstream for use as an ice pond- which functioned as such until the early-mid 20th century. Bemis Pond then served as a recreational amenity through the middle of the 20th century, however, due to water quality issues; the pond has not been used for decades. During this time the dam has become a nuisance to the area’s natural resources, and public safety as the condition of the dam has become poor.
The City’s choice to pursue the design of a removal project instead of a rehabilitation project is based on mitigation of future risk, cost effectiveness of project, and the functional obsolescence of the dam, in addition to the desire to create a natural area in Szot Park that supports passive recreation identified in the City’s Open Space & Recreation Plan (OSRP).
“This is one of these expense issues the City is trying to address and grants helping to fund design and restoration work go a long way in helping to come to the best solution,” said Mayor Richard J. Kos.