Monday, May 20, 2024

A rendering of plans for Jerry’s Pond in North Cambridge. (Image: Friends of Jerry’s Pond)

Earth Day will be celebrated with live music, food, dance performance and arts and crafts at the seventh annual Jerry’s PondFest on May 7 in North Cambridge, but the most important part of the event is expected in the not-so-distant future: the reopening of public access to the pond. (Organizers are using their rain date after the forecast for Sunday guaranteed rain.)

Along with the fun, participants can help clean the perimeter of Jerry’s Pond, do some gardening and learn more about the reopening of a public amenity that’s been fenced off since 1961, with no access for the thousands of residents living nearby, including in public housing across Rindge Avenue.

Plans for reclaiming and reopening the pond – sometimes called Jerry’s Pit – for public enjoyment are underway by the residents’ group Friends of Jerry’s Pond and the life-sciences company real estate developer IQHQ, which owns the land. Information tables staffed by neighborhood volunteers and the company team will be set up to update Earth Day visitors on progress and construction.

The plans include better and safer bike and pedestrian pathways, an Audubon-staffed EcoCenter for environmental education and a Green Cambridge-run community farm. The residents’ group still hopes to see a Rindge Avenue Greenway take shape that will transform “the narrow, blighted strip along Jerry’s Pond into a world-class stretch of green infrastructure with landscaped parkland, 150 to 175 newly planted trees, walking paths, seating and fully separated bicycle paths,” according to a Sunday email.

Hoping for City Hall aid

The greenway would provide new wetlands and canopy habitat for birds and animals that has been backed by prominent science and ecology-focused groups such as Green Cambridge, Mass Audubon and the Mystic River Watershed Association, the group said.

Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui is expected to speak Sunday on what a restored Jerry’s Pond could mean for the neighborhood where she grew up – and maybe on whether city government will contribute funds toward the work.

“The city has identified the Rindge area as the largest ‘environmental justice’ community in town and yet, to date, the administration has not contributed one penny toward the revitalization of Jerry’s Pond nor fulfilled its commitment to fund a feasibility and engineering study,” the group said. Then-city manager Louis A. DePasquale agreed in July to spend $600,000 in federal grants, but the money hasn’t been released – a problem for all Cambridge organizations who were awarded Covid recovery money from what’s known as the American Rescue Plan.

Music, dance, henna and more

The Sunday event is set to feature the Honk! Brass Band, Bangladeshi dancers and henna tattoo artists. Mass Audubon will bring animals, weather permitting, and artist Kathy Lobo and North Cambridge Arts will lead arts and crafts projects. Mothers Out Front will have a kids table.

The Friends of Jerry’s Pond group is also organizing what may be a first for Cambridge: A leader from the Massachusett tribe, with help from landscape artist Ross Miller, will guide volunteers in building a demonstration fishing weir like those built along Alewife Brook for millennia.

At PondFest, there will be a drawing for gear from the Harvard Square Patagonia store: an ultralight mini hip pack worth $35, a 25-liter pack worth $149 and a 55-liter duffel worth $169. It’s open for free to anyone, with donations welcomed at Cambridge Community Foundation site for Jerry’s Pond. Participate by making a donation online, sending a note to [email protected] before the event, or signing up at PondFest. One entry per person.

“Last year’s event was wildly successful, and this year looks even better,” Friends of Jerry’s Pond said.

  • Earth Day Jerry’s PondFest 2023 is from 1:30 to 5 p.m. May 7 at Jerry’s Pond at Rindge Avenue and Alewife Brook Parkway, North Cambridge.

This post was updated April 21, 2023, to clarify the rules of the drawing for Patagonia gear and announce the change of date to May 7.