Friends of Horseshoe Pond to tend bar for tips

The Friends of Horseshoe Pond will take a tip from bartenders, so to speak, and raise money for the annual cleaning of Horseshoe Pond the old-fashioned way. They’ll serve drinks at a bar and take tips.

The fund-raising event will take place at Marly’s Bar and Bistro, 101 Old Ridgefield Road, in October. The date and time will be announced.

It’s the latest fund-raiser for the group, which has been active cleaning the lily pad-choked pond for many years. They need to raise $5,000 for the next application of an environmentally friendly herbicide, said Anne Deware, who has spearheaded the effort.

“I think it’s great what Anne has done through the years. It shows what impact one person can have,” said First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice. “It’s a great private-public partnership with the Friends of Horseshoe Pond. When you look at how beautiful it is, you want to keep it that way.”

In the past, the group organized volunteers to manually pull the lilies from the pond. For three years they even drained the pond in an effort to freeze the lilies at the root, but the weather was too warm to destroy the plants.

This is the third year herbicides will be applied, but it costs money.

That’s where the fund-raising comes in.

“We’ll send out some letters and put it in the Conservation Commission flyer,” Deware said.

The town is working with the group to restore the area and improve the ecology, said Mike Conklin, director of environmental affairs.

Specifically, the Wilton Conservation Commission has completed a summer-long project to enhance the northern edge of Horseshoe Pond at the southern entrance to Wilton Center. The goal of the project was to frame the beautiful view of the pond for the community to enjoy as it enters and exits Wilton Center, Conklin said. The site was designed by Conservation Commissioners Susan DiLoreto and Donna Merrill who volunteered their time and expertise to create a landscape plan.

Implementing the beautification project proved to be a collaborative effort; between the town, private business owners and residents. Bolton Landscaping Design & Masonry, Inc. was hired by the town to prepare the site for planting. Owner Jeff Lapnow continued to support the project with the donation of labor and equipment for the installation of the plantings.

An innovative irrigation system utilizing water from Horseshoe Pond to water the restored area was installed by ECO Systems Inc. who donated the labor for the installation. Electricity was required to operate the sprinkler system and neighbors Ebba and Jeff Lavaty offered the use of their electricity, Conklin said.

DiLoreto’s landscape design firm, SMSD Landscape Designs, along with Merrill donated the plants for the project to form a balanced native plant colony. The plants will successfully grow together because each root system occupies a specific belowground niche. Above ground, the plants will form a dense protective shield to sequester pollutants — very important for the health of the wood ducks, mallards, herons, amphibians and insects who make Horseshoe Pond their home or use it as a rest stop during migration.

“We chose two native grasses, Sideoats Grama and Poverty Rush along with Black-Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed and Huckleberry to balance the plant community,” DiLoreto said. “These plants should thrive along the edge of the road where they will be covered with heavy snow in the winter and subject to dry periods during the summer.”

The new plants were watered on an automatic timer twice a day over the summer.

“I love Horseshoe Pond and am thrilled that others in town feel the same. It’s the support of the Conservation Commission and the generous donations to The Friends of Horseshoe Pond that are allowing us to bring our pond back to a healthy place for wildlife and create a beautiful setting for everyone to enjoy” said Merrill.

Anyone interested in supporting the continued restoration work at Horseshoe Pond can mail a check payable to Town of Wilton with Horseshoe Pond in the memo line to: Conservation Commission, Town Hall Annex, 238 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897.