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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The new and improved Massell Quad Pond

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

By now both new and returning Brandeis students have noticed the new fountain in Massell Pond. The installation of the fountain, however, is only the more visible outcome of a project begun around this time last year. This past summer the pond was partially dredged and cleaned as the result of a study conducted last year at the urging of Student Union representatives and Massell Quad residents. “When talking with Massell residents, the pond was something that came up quite often,” recalls Jason Gray ('10), last year's Massell Quad Senator. “So we brought it to the attention of Mark Collins [Vice President of Operations] and worked together to find a solution.”

As a major collection area for storm water run-off, large amounts of sediment and grass had collected in the pond and clogged up the drains. Prior to the cleaning, There was only a very small opening for water to pass through,” said Mark Collins. As a result there was very little water movement and clumps of dirt had created several 'islands' within the pond. After working with an outside consulting firm, the University approached the Waltham Conservation Committee to insure any proposed changes would follow all environmental ordinances. “We were able to clarify our ability to do maintenance,” said Collins. “It's something we can continue to do now from year to year.”

Over the summer earth-moving machines removed around 100 cubic yards worth of sediment from the pond, with some areas of sediment extending three feet deep. The drains were cleaned, and the fountain was installed in the center, creating water movement as well as a pleasing view. (Incidentally, the fountain floated off of its anchor with all the rain last week and for a brief time was helping to water the willow tree).

Kane Memorial Pond, as it's officially called according to a plaque on the outer stone wall, is a human-made basin, with a rock-lined bottom;

however the location is a natural gathering place for water run-off. “If you look at the topography of campus,” describes Peter Baker in Facilities Administration, “the water basin changes around the Science complex area.”

As Mr. Baker described, both Massell Pond and Chapels Pond, located next to the Harlan and Berlin chapels, serve as collection basins for water that flows from the wetlands behind the Goldfarb library and from Chapels Field. On the Upper Campus water flows into retention basins under the North Quad parking lot. Several above ground retention basins can also be found near Schneider, Rosenstiel, and near the tennis courts behind Gosman. Through a series of pipes, water from Upper Campus and around the Science Complex flows down the hill, makes an abrupt turn and reappears near the train tracks before entering the nearby reservoir. Water from Massell Pond flows under H Lot and continues under a Waltham playground before flowing into the Stony Brook Reservoir.

“Was it [the Pond] something the administration cared about? Yes. Would anything have happened if we hadn't brought it up? I'm not sure” (Jason Gray)

With the generally gorgeous weather of the past few weeks the pond has become a popular gathering place, both for students and several ducks (possibly even a turtle). Other landscaping work was done in the area surrounding the pond, as evident from the grass seed. Eventually some small signs describing the various plants and trees might be installed.

One can still see, however, that the water continues to stagnate as it trails off in the direction of Deroy. Collins mentioned it is still in need of some more aeration and water circulation work. In the meantime, the lovely atmosphere surrounding the fountain remains a nice example of the benefits of collaboration among students and administrators.