Darien neighbors urge all to keep Gorham’s Pond clean

DARIEN — The community recently celebrated the scene of many enjoying the long-beloved tradition skating at Gorham’s Pond on a chilly weekend.

However, some neighbors are pleading with pond revelers to take their garbage and equipment with them when they leave.

On a recent social media post sharing a photo of skaters by The Corbin District, neighbor Caitlin Whitacre addressed the aftermath of what she called “a treasured sight.”

“I live on Gorham’s Pond and it was such fun for all. Like a Norman Rockwell experience we are all lucky to have,” she wrote. “But we need to please remind everyone to take their equipment, belongings and garbage. Instead of enjoying a late afternoon skate with my family, I walked around cleaning up all kinds of things left behind, i.e. cups, soda cans, candy boxes.”

Whitacre said while there was still litter, a hockey bag and stick sitting on her rock, the “most upsetting” was “another goal left out there that will sink into the pond as well as other various items.”

“The people who live around Gorham’s Pond are responsible for its health and beauty,” she said.

She urged those who use it to respect its beauty and “treat it as though it was in their own backyards, so we can enjoy it for all seasons.”

Another neighbor, Lindsay Purcell, said while dropped gloves is understandable, what isn’t are “beer cans, pucks, sticks, hockey bags, even hockey goals.”

Purcell pointed out that, because the ice only lasts a week, when the trash isn’t removed it sinks to the bottom of the pond and “gets stuck in the muck, where it becomes a huge hazard for our wildlife.”

“If you doubt it, come check out the swans’ nest this spring which inevitably will be filled with garbage strewn among the eggs. Or next time the pond is drained, you can see a hockey net, permanently stuck mid-pond,” Purcell said.

Gorham’s Pond is home to many forms of wildlife, including pairs of swans, egrets, Canadian geese, ducks and different kinds of fish. There hasve also been many sightings of bald eagles over the last few years.

“It is very discouraging that the very people enjoying skating on Gorham’s Pond are also those who defile it,” said Lucia Zachowski, president of the board of directors of the nonprofit Friends of Gorham’s Pond. “The debris and refuse left by skaters on the pond has been a perennial problem.”

She said she has considered adding more signs, but isn’t sure it would do any good. A recent Darien Planning and Zoning survey ranked the Gorham’s Pond watershed as the second most highly rated asset to the town, after the schools.

“We have tried to make skaters aware of this problem, but every year it persists. The steep slope and narrow roadway prevent our placing more refuse containers along the road there,” she said.

Zachowski said every year when the group holds its annual Gorham’s Pond cleanup on Earth Day, large numbers of hockey pucks, clothing, and “the ever frustrating nets” are removed.

“This refuse is a danger to the wildlife that graces the pond and poses significant problems for the health of this estuary,” she said.

The FOGP’s latest project is the Goodwives River bridge, where huge sandbars have formed, impeding the flow of water runoff from over half of the land mass of Darien to Long Island Sound.

In the summer of 2019, efforts earned the necessary local, state and federal permits required to restore this section of Gorham’s Pond. The project is “shovel ready” and is awaiting the needed funds to complete it.