By Dot Bergin
Has your family skated on Fawn Lake? Do you regularly walk the trails? Go fishing there? Enjoy seeing the diversity of plant and wild life? What does Fawn Lake mean to you?
Bedford residents who love Fawn Lake and are passionate about its role as an irreplaceable town resource gathered on June 26 to share information and plan for future activities. One suggestion coming out of the meeting was a survey of townspeople to determine how many people actually spend time at the Lake and what they enjoy most about the area.
The 30 or so in attendance last night were treated to a brief history of Bedford Springs, presented by Alethea Yates, historian and author of Bedford (one of the Postcard History series of books). Beginning in the 1840s, the area was known for medicinal springs, said to have healing powers; later the area was developed by the Hayden family into a fine hotel that attracted wealthy Bostonians who came out from the city to enjoy the “good air” of Bedford and to take the waters. Local lore has it that a crew of Italian workmen, with picks and shovels, dug out the Lake, but this story has not been authenticated.
Following the historical introduction, Sweetwater Avenue resident Bill Simons, a founding member of the Friends of Fawn, presented a slide show on the Lake as it is today, showing its educational and recreational uses for all ages.
What could the Town do about Fawn Lake? Simons, a professional hydrogeologist, outlined these possibilities:
- Hire another consultant to study the lake (several studies have been done in past years)
- Do a cost-benefit analysis?
- Seek grants – from local, state, and federal agencies?
- FEMA grant? (the stability of the existing dam is questionable; it may need serious repairs.)
- Seek private contributions?
- Seek help from charitable organizations?
Simons’ opinion was that “all of the above, or a mix” would be the most likely source of help.
Going forward, Simons outlined this schedule: there will probably be four or five Community Preservation Committee meetings on the Fawn Lake issue; the Town will likely issue a request for proposal sometime this summer, to retain a consultant for another study; an article will be drafted to be presented to the spring 2015 Town Meeting.
Simons then opened the meeting for a lively discussion. Most of those in the room had spent years carefully observing the condition of the Lake (recurrence of water lilies, appearance of unpleasant yellow algae) and the myriad animal and plant life abounding there. One fisherman said he had noticed a shallowing of the water in the past six years. Bob McClatchey, who lived on Gould Road for more than 40 years, mentioned that there were not just lily pads but other invasive species. “Eutrophication goes on,” he said. Sue Harrison, Springs Road, who has written a number of articles on the local wildlife, has collected information on the existing dam and on the beaver dam (attempts to “outwit”the beavers in the past have had little success.) As one attendee pointed out, although the lake was man-made, an eco-system has evolved with a diversity of plants and animals.
The Friends of Fawn Lake, whose founding members are Schorr Berman, Laura Bullock, Carol Charnow, Liz Cowles, Beth Doyle, Linda Oustinow and Marijke Puckel-Maartense, say their goal is to maintain the Lake, review the studies, possibly engage in grant writing to raise funds, hold events to raise awareness, and use social media to the fullest, to inform Bedford residents. They are looking for volunteers to help with any of these activities.
Here are ways to be in touch with the Friends: There’s a Facebook page for Fawn Lake at Bedford Springs, MA; the Friends’ email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and there is even an “app” that you can download to your iPhone: https://fawnlake.myapp.name.