Workers landscape neglected boat transfer site
Friday, August 1, 2014
By Jack Corraggio
NEW MILFORD -- A group of Housatonic Valley Association workers stared down itchy summertime conditions with shovels and pick axes in hand Thursday to work on a little known boat portage on West Street.
Seven workers, not dissuaded by humidity and hungry mosquitoes, showed up early to work on the hidden-in-plain-sight Bleachery Dam portage.
The workers had some landscaping and litter removal to do to turn the under-utilized and unintentionally clandestine, Housatonic River boat transfer site into a more welcoming and easy to use environment.
“We want to make this area suitable
for recreational use,” said Michael Jastremski, a water protection director with HVA. “There’s room here for improvement.”
With thriving commercial districts on each adjacent riverbank, the portage exists as an oasis on a lush peninsula that divides the main waterway and an alcove. But due to obstruction from infrastructure, passing boaters must
get out of the water on one side of the portage and carry their vessel to an opposite castoff point. It’s a short trek, but conditions are overgrown and uneven, leading HVA to their project.
Tammy Reardon, an aide to New Milford Mayor Patricia Murphy, said that 10 years ago town workers created the portage. They have since done modest upkeep, but help from environmental groups such as HVA allows overdue projects to get accomplished.
“To have HVA’s support is great,” said Reardon, who admitted the site isn’t well known. “Because this is a passive recreation site, not a lot of work is done to it.”
HVA Berkshire Director Dennis Regan said the river is in good shape, and their work Thursday was about accessibility. But not all is well, due to the endless miles of impervious surfaces rain runoff that poses a threat to its overall health.
The HVA organization exists not just to protect the environment, but to engage and enlighten the community. “Our philosophy is that if people get to know about the Housatonic River, then they’ll want to protect it," he said.