Here in Wellesley: an interview with a few Morses Pond powers-that-be

It’s been a safe and fun season at Morses Pond, Wellesley’s hottest spot to cool off and relax in the summer. I caught up with Recreation Director Matt Chin; Recreation Department Deputy Director Brandon Fitts; and Program Coordinator Jenn Lawlor to find out how things have been going at the swimming, boating, and fishing area located off Weston Road. We talked about everything from programming to phosphorus and algae blooms to creatures that exist in and around the 100-acre body of water.

Also part of the conversation: changes that may be coming to the popular recreation area. With Town Meeting’s blessing, Rec anticipates putting out a Request for Proposals this fall to find out what changes might be possible, desirable, and within budget. It’s no secret, for example, that the bathhouse could use updating and the parking area could be improved. What’s less known is what residents think the area needs. That will be sussed out during a series of yet-to-be-announced public meetings in which residents will be asked for input and about how changes and improvements should be prioritized. We’ll keep you updated as information becomes available.

In the meantime, mark your calendar: Morses Pond closes for the season on August 19.

Morses Pond, Wellesley
Recreation Department Deputy Director Brandon Fitts (left); Program Coordinator Jenn Lawlor (right), and Recreation Director Matt Chin, back

SW REPORT: What fun events did you host at the pond this summer?

BRANDON FITTS: We hosted the fishing derby in May before the pond opened for the season. Also Council on Aging Day, when seniors got in for free, and we had activities for them; Wellesley Mother’s Forum had an event, there were fun things for dads to do on Father’s Day, and all the graduating 8th graders were here from the middle school for a party — they had perfect weather. Going forward, the library comes over and does Beach Tales [Thursdays through August 16, 11am – 11:30am], and we’re doing Cars 3 for movie night [August 9, 8:15pm], and the Family Camp-Out is Saturday, August 8 – Sunday, August 9.

SW REPORT: Were there any upgrades to the beach area this year?

MATT CHIN: We’ve saved money by not having to treat the pond for algae so we repaired the docks. Some pieces had to be sent back to the manufacturer to fix them and some parts we fixed here on our own.

SW REPORT: How have the algae blooms been this year? What about the E.coli count?

MATT CHIN: We’ve had no problems with algae blooms this year, and haven’t had to treat for them in eight or nine years. The clarity of the water is great this year. We test weekly for E.coli contamination, as the State requires. The maximum limit for E.coli is 235 colony forming units (CFUs) per 100 Ml. This year the tests have come back very good. The highest it has been is 164  before the pond opened. Every week since then it’s been 50 or even lower. We have been extremely lucky this year as many beaches, lakes and ponds in Massachusetts have been closed due to high bacteria

BRANDON FITTS: We haven’t had many problems with geese on the sand, which helps.

SW REPORT: How has the phosphorus level been this year (phosphorous levels contribute to algae blooms and become high when septic systems, animal waste, and fertilizers, for example, run off into the water. 2017 recorded the lowest phosphorus levels in 20 years at the pond):

MATT CHIN: The phosphorus levels continue to be low and we anticipate recording lower levels for 2018 than we did in 2017.

SW REPORT: How many times did you have to treat the pond with chemicals for phophoorus inactivation?

MATT CHIN: None.

SW REPORT: What kind of fish/creatures are in the pond?

ALL: Sunfish, eels, bass, perch, mussels, snails, painted turtles, snapping turtles on the pond that isn’t used (the old Ice Pond), crawfish…

BEN, CRUISING BY ON A GOLF CART: A kid pulled a catfish out of the water the other day. There are also pickerel in there.

JENN LAWLOR: There are two swans and one baby swan on the pond. Also geese, fawns, herons, chipmunks.

SW REPORT: What’s coming up in general in the Recreation Department?

MATT CHIN: Well, a Pickle Ball court is opening up at the Schofield School tennis courts in a couple of weeks. Also, the Fall brochure will be coming out online and in mailboxes soon.

SW REPORT: Thanks for the update, everybody.

After we finished talking, I strolled over the the entrance area and plunked down $25 for a rest-of-season pass. Morning swims through the August 19 closing date is my goal. With the water sparkling clean and the hated Canada geese generally at bay there’s nothing stopping me except my own inertia.

If you haven’t gotten your pass yet, go ahead and make it happen. See you there.

Check out Rec’s sweet Instagram account here.