Click here to see how to walk from our school to the pond.

The Mashapaug Pond Project



     On December 2, 1999 our 2nd grade class visited the sites you see above. We got to see first hand what the pond looks like today and we tried to imagine what the pond looked like when the first Native Americans camped along its shores. After we visited the pond, we went to see the Native American exhibit at Roger Williams Park.
     As you can see, the pond is beautiful, but it also needs attention. We're planning on getting involved in cleaning these areas up in the spring.

(an exerpt from the preliminary plans prepared by the staff at Roger Williams Park.)

     Mashapaug Pond was part of Providence’s "working water" for over 150 years, providing water power for saw mills, water for cooling at Gorham Manufacturing, and ice for the old Rhode Island Ice Company that was distributed by horse and buggy to the West End and Elmwood neighborhoods. In the last 70 years, however, the pond has been largely forgotten. New industry and commerce turned their backs on the pond. And recreation planners overlooked the pond as a resource for the neighborhoods that surround it.

     The proposed project envisions a brighter future for Mashapaug Pond. The pond has great promise. It is 69 acres in size, thus making it the largest freshwater body in Providence. The water is relatively clean, there are abundant fish in the pond, and almost 75% of the pond’s 2.4 miles of shoreline is already publicly owned land. There are strong neighborhood institutions near the pond that are ready to roll their sleeves up to make Mashapaug Pond a neighborhood recreation asset.

     What is possible at the pond? Envisioned are four discrete development efforts coming together to provide a unique neighborhood-managed recreation resource. An existing state owned ballfield complex would be renovated with additional athletic facilities into a real park-like atmosphere. Hiking trails would be built along the western shoreline behind the industrial park on city owned land all the way to the former Gorham complex. There, additional neighborhood community gardens would be built as well as canoeing and volleyball facilities and hiking trails. Finally, at the southern end of the pond, 5 private parcels, totally 2.8 acres would be acquired next to the recently built Murphy-Trainor Park. Providence’s first freshwater community boating facility and environmental education center would be developed here.

     While the public land at the pond will remain in City and State hands, the management programming, and maintenance of all the facilities will be done through a neighborhood-based Mashapaug Pond Association. The Association will be comprised of residents from the three target neighborhoods that will be served by the pond: Reservoir, West End, and Elmwood. Association members will cultivate "ownership" of the pond’s facilities through use of its facilities, through planning and decision- making about the pond, and through a sweat equity in-kin services program.

     The association will also tap an array of partnerships with City and neighborhood organizations to develop the most balanced recreational programming effort in the City. Family fun runs, community gardening, community sailing, scout troops, conservation management activities—all will be part of the programming mix at the pond.

     Mashapaug Pond will no longer be Providence’s forgotten waterway. It can become a neighborhood resource at little cost and a model for Providence’s other neighborhoods.


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