Palooza splash aims at bringing together Sand Pond neighbors

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It’s been called the “hidden jewel,” and for a good reason. While in the midst of a neighborhood and in view of highly traveled Post Road – you have to look quickly – Sand Pond is generally overlooked.

That hasn’t been the case in the past year and a half, as the residents of Massasoit Terrace have banded to form Save Sand Pond in their efforts to stop the erection of a 630-unit self-storage facility on the east end of Sand Pond Plaza.

Save Sand Pond has doggedly fought the self-storage proposal, appearing at Planning and Zoning Board of Review hearings and hiring an attorney to present their argument. In the latest turn of events, the zoning board approved a special use permit along with a series of conditions aimed at addressing concerns raised by residents. Save Sand Pond plans to appeal the decision to Superior Court.

That was on the agenda lon Aug. 10th as officers of the association met on the pond beach. Yet it wasn’t the legal strategy of their next move that was the focus of discussion. Rather, it was a planning session for the second Pond Palooza, an event to celebrate the pond and introduce its clear water and beauty to everyone who enjoys swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking or simply sitting on the beach, meeting people, drinking lemonade and taking chances in a raffle. The palooza is planned for Sunday, Aug. 25 from noon until 4 p.m. Last year’s palooza brought together 85 people. This year, Save Sand Pond is planning on more than 300.

Save Sand Pond president Alisa Richardson has appealed to the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund for a $1,000 grant to underwrite the cost of food and drinks, a porta-john, brochures and prizes for the best decorated float. As part of the palooza, Save Sand Pond will host a history of Sand Pond presentation on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Warwick Public Library.

Apart from increasing awareness of the pond, a kettle hole pond with no inlet or outlet, the association is looking to increase community ownership of the pond.

In her grant application, Richardson points out that for many years the pond was a city-supervised swimming area with a lifeguard and swimming lessons. With the loss of community involvement, Richardson writes, the beach has attracted non-family attendees.

“The neighbors have had to call police frequently,” she writes. “Our goal is to re-energize the families in the surrounding neighborhood to utilize the pond and the beach area as frequently as possible. We believe more of a neighborhood presence will reduce unwanted attention and promote community development.”

Jane Allsworth, who has extensively researched deed restrictions in the effort to stop the self-storage unit, said the palooza would also provide the group the opportunity to conduct a neighborhood survey as to which of three projects they should precede first. That includes enhancing the path to the beach, beach improvements and cleanup of the historic cemetery.

Allsworth said those planning to bring watercraft to the palooza should go to Bigalow Circle and follow the balloons and signs to the pond access.

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