Board transfers management of Toby’s Pond

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Toby’s Pond in Beacon Falls. The Board of Selectmen has given management responsibility of Toby’s Pond to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Previously, a volunteer acted as steward of the pond. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Board of Selectmen this month unanimously approved passing the management responsibility of Toby’s Pond to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Until this month, Open Space and Land Steward Rich Minnick supervised management of the park as the steward for Toby’s Pond. While he is still the open space and land steward, Minnick has stepped back from overseeing Toby’s Pond.

“It’s getting a lot of use. But it is way too much for me to maintain it and spearhead it,” Minnick said. “I have to go out and keep asking for volunteers. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

According to Minnick, the town accepted Toby’s Pond from O&G Industries in 2004 as part of a deal with the state Department of Environmental and Energy Protection. Before it became Toby’s Pond, the area was a sand and gravel operation for several decades. As part of the deal, O&G converted the area into a recreational park and provided funds to the town for the upkeep of the area.

Minnick stepping away as steward of Toby’s Pond created a hole that another single person likely wouldn’t be able fill alone, First Selectman Christopher Bielik said.

“Either we find another volunteer to fill his shoes, which I think is unlikely, or we let it go to waste until we put someone on it, or we, at least for now, assign it to parks and rec. Those are our choices,” Bielik said.

Selectman Michael Krenesky said the town doesn’t have enough money in its budget to cover the projects at the parks already under the management of parks and recreation. He said the pond at Matthies Park hasn’t been dredged in many years, and the house on the island there has needed updating for a long time.

“We don’t spend enough money on those things,” Krenresky said.

Bielik said the town has approximately $25,000 in the fund that O&G started for the upkeep of the park. He believes this will be enough money for the upkeep of Toby’s Pond until the town can figure out what the next step is for the park.

Former First Selectman Susan Cable said Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park, an adventure park company, expressed interest in using the pond for activities during her time in office.

Bielik said he would look into the possibility of that company, or another similar company, coming to Beacon Falls.

However, Minnick does not see this idea getting too far off the ground.

The area around the pond is a flood plain and cannot have any permanent structures built on it, Minnick said.

Minnick said he would like to see the park remain a passive recreational area for people who would like to hike, camp, kayak and fish.

“It is an incredible fishing spot. That’s not me saying that, that is according to DEEP on three separate occasions,” Minnick said.