MONTEREY -- Born of the Great Depression, the recreational area at Benedict Pond has been saved through a $750,000 facelift of the dam holding back the pond, state officials said on Tuesday.
Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Ed Lambert cited how the poor condition of the nearly 80-year-old dam in Beartown State Forest prompted the DCR to refurbish the structure this summer.
"This is an incredible project toward the preservation of a regional resource important to the quality of life for the people," Lambert said at a Tuesday ceremony celebrating the completion of the work.
The project included encasing the old concrete dam with new concrete, re-grading the dam crest and downstream slope, and installing a walkway atop the entire 800-foot length of the structure connecting the rustic campground with the picnic and swimming area.
In addition, the pond's parking area, picnic tables, benches and five waterfront campsites were also restored.
Built by the U.S. Civilian Con servation Corps in the early 1930s, Benedict Pond was created to increase recreational opportunities in South County. Besides camping and a day-use area, visitors can fish and boat on the 30-acre body of water.
The pond, straddling the Monterey-Great Barrington town line, is another reason to tout the Berkshires' beauty, according to state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox.
"When I tell my [legislative] colleagues about places like this, they think I'm making it up," Pignatelli said.
Popular with locals because it's off the beaten path, Benedict Pond becomes an instant favorite with first-time visitors, like David Carberry of Ledyard, Conn.
"It's impressive and it's relaxing -- that's why we're here," Carberry said as he and his wife traversed the new walkway.
Refurbishing the dam did curtail the use of Benedict Pond this summer because the campground was closed, and people had limited access to the water, according to state officials.
However, Beartown park supervisor Adam Morris noted regular visitors understood the need for the project.
"They were happy we were putting the time and money into saving the area for the future," Morris said.
In addition to promoting and managing state recreational areas, the DCR, through its Office of Dam Safety, is also responsible for the upkeep of more than 1,523 large dams within state parks, forests and water supply land property.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.
The Beartown facts ...
n Beartown State Forest encompasses 12,000 acres, primarily in Monterey and Great Barrington.
n It is the fifth-largest state park in Massachusetts.
n Beartown allows hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, the use of
snowmobiles and ATVs.
n Camping, swimming, a picnic area and boat launch are featured at Benedict Pond.
n The 30-acre pond and surrounding recreational area were created in the 1930s by the federal government's
former Civilian Conservation Corps.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation