Fond support for the Mill Pond dam


To the Editor:

I loved Gussie Ben David’s Letter to the Editor (Nov. 24, “Beware sidewalk biologists”) about the Old Mill Pond dam and his reference to the sidewalk biologists. “Go, Gussie, go!”

I’m 75 years old now, but when I was a kid I used to hunt that whole area. The water started up on the North Road near Waskosim’s rock. There were mills all along the way, and I caught every snake, frog, and turtle that I could find. The dam at the Old Mill Pond was my favorite. Why? Because there were lamprey eels there trying to climb up the dam to get into the pond to suck and kill all the fish there. The lampreys don’t really have a regular mouth like an eel. They have a round mouth with suckers all around it. They were hard to grab, very slippery.

If they take the dam down, any lampreys that may still be around could swim all the way to Waskosim’s rock and kill everything in their path. What would be left of the pond would be just a swamp or, at best, a stream. Where did our beautiful pond go?

Old Mill Pond, don’t let this happen to you.

You know, all the dams on the Island and even in all of Massachusetts are inspected about once a year by some government agency. I know that because my mother gave me 80 acres which included Duarte’s Pond. It had three dams on it, and imbedded in one of the dams in stone is the date 1913. I can show it to you.

Duarte’s Pond turns into Black Water Brook. It goes under the road just past Cottle’s Lumber Co., and comes out at Lambert’s Cove Beach where its name gets changed to Coca-Cola Beach. When the cranberry bogs were built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, they would have to dam up all the water. Then, with oxen, they would dig down about three feet and cover the bottom with about a foot of peat moss, which is what kept the water from draining down into the ground and, hence, the Coca-Cola brook color when it hit Lambert’s Beach.

The Old Mill Pond is one of the most beautiful ponds on the Island, small in size, but baby swans and ducks that make it their home in the springtime don’t take up much space. If you owned a house on it, wouldn’t you like it to stay that way? If they take down the dam, the water will just find another way to get to the ocean as it usually does — and what’s left would be just a stream or a swamp.

If you don’t like the Old Mill Pond, why don’t you just go back to New York? Or better still, go over to that pizza parlor at Beetlebung Corner and read the New York Times on the porch? Just don’t tell us what to do with our beloved Old Mill Pond dam.

Go, Gussie, go!

David J. Duarte

Vineyard Haven