VINELAND — The city is seeking $500,000 in state funding to help rejuvenate the restored Burnt Mill Pond and its surrounding area.
The hoped-for Green Acres funds from the state Department of Environmental Protection would join $250,000 in municipal funds to build a fishing pier, restore an old bridge and create a walking path, according to city records.
The money also would finance an “aquatic devegetation (and) rehabilitation” plan. That likely involves removing the remnants of plants, bushes and other growth that sprouted after the pond emptied when heavy rains in August 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 combined to weaken and wash out its earthen dam.
The pond was refilled by March 2016, just a few weeks after the city finished a $1 million project to repair the dam and strengthen the pond’s bank structure.
The plan isn’t to create a full-fledged city park but to restore it to its original condition and again serve as a “nice tourist attraction,” Mayor Anthony Fanucci said.
The work would benefit people who moved to the pond years ago to enjoy one of the city’s few “natural water areas,” he said, “something that is really great to look at and pleasant for neighbors and the people who live there.”
Burnt Mill Pond is located in the North Vineland section.
The pond was always a popular boating and fishing spot, with anglers catching catfish, pike and bass. It became a favorite skating site when it iced over in the winter.
The city took control of the pond in the 1980s, buying and improving the site with the help of Green Acres funding that required public access.
The pond is slightly more than 1 mile from the Shieldalloy Mettalurgical Corp. site in neighboring Newfield, Gloucester County. The 67.5-acre facility is a federally designated Superfund cleanup site.
City officials have worried for years that the contamination from the Shieldalloy site has reached sediment on the bottom of Burnt Mill Pond. They’ve unsuccessfully lobbied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the pond to be included in the Shieldalloy Superfund project.
However, the state Department of Environmental Protection said tests performed as part of the Superfund cleanup revealed no contamination to be present and no remediation to be needed. The sediments meet what DEP considers “unrestrictive use criteria,” the state agency said.
DEP said it was safe for people to engage in recreational activities on the pond.