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Development On Taunton Pond



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To the Editor:

The beauty and attributes of Taunton Pond and its surrounding hillsides have been a hot topic these days since a developer is proposing a housing plan there. Consideration of the issue has prompted me to reminisce about the area’s past, and to seriously contemplate its future.

When we moved up to Mount Pleasant from Hanover in 1970, Taunton was a reservoir and the source of our town’s public water supply. I was told its only “treatment” was a screen to keep fish out. I was also told it was a “pond” because it was too small to be a lake, but apparently there is no such size designation. Instead, ponds were privately owned bodies of water, whereas lakes allowed for public access. Today the public can access Taunton only by virtue of a few small and relatively inaccessible tracts of Newtown’s Open Space.

Plenty more people than today used to paddle around the pond decades ago, especially during fishing season. The Newtown Fish and Game Club has always owned the boat launch on Taunton Lake Road but only fenced it in maybe 20 years back. In the 70s we young people used to frequent it, especially in winter when conditions were often ripe for skating.

Our family had a collection of ill-fitting antique skates that we kids made use of by stuffing with socks. I explored the shoreline on a pair of men’s hockey skates, but not near the pump house where the ice was dangerously thin. I remember the bone chilling cold on windy days but that’s when you could open your coat like a sail and let the wind take you. Sometimes a few of us would hold onto each other’s coats and form a line, which was even better. My fondest memories though are of skating at night. You couldn’t see the fishing holes as well, but when someone lit a fire on the ice it was truly magical.

Taunton Pond is already far more developed now than in my youth, and dramatically more so than in my father’s. He told of sledding onto the ice from atop what’s now Saw Mill Ridge with nothing but a stone wall in the way that made for a good jump. I can understand why people don’t want to see more development around it, but I can tell you from experience that there will be more, whether it be in this decade with this developer, or in the next with others.

Many have had a knee jerk “no” to large plans in town, but not all plans are equally objectionable on realistic grounds. I can’t honestly say whether I’m for or against it, but this developer has Newtown roots, is offering the preservation of a huge portion of the land on Taunton Pond and has been flexibly responding to environmental and esthetic concerns. If he becomes so discouraged as to abandon this project, will future decades hold much worse for the property? Just food for thought…

Randi Kiely


A letter from Randi Kiely.
Comments are open. Be civil.

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