Island residents, the Whiting family hopes, can have as much fun skating on Parsonage Pond as they have had watching the pond being dredged.
Onlookers were abuzz Tuesday morning as a unique paddle-wheeled excavator on pontoons crept into the two-acre pond and began snuffling pond grass and weeds into the maw of its extended rake, then churning back to shore to deposit the materials on the bank.
The unique dredging machine has a pedestrian name, Hydro Rake. It is a design of Aquatic Control Technology in Sutton and is custom-made for use in shallow waters, according to senior biologist Keith Gazaille. “There are only a few in the country. It’s not something you can buy off the shelf,” Mr. Gazaille said.
He estimated several hundred cubic yards of grass and weeds will be removed when work is completed today. The dredging project is essentially a gift to the Island from abutters and nearby families who underwrote the $175-an-hour dredging cost.
The craft is constructed from steel plate pontoons propelled by two three-foot-tall water wheels powered by a 50-horsepower engine. The rake is affixed to a small front-end loader arm. The craft can maneuver in water depths of two feet.
Town clerk Prudy Whiting, her brothers Allen and Daniel, Prudy Noon, Jeff Dando, Tara Whiting and other abutting family and friends have pitched in for years to dredge the pond by hand, but this year they decided on mechanical dredging. Nephew Everett Whiting will use a recently acquired dump truck to remove the weedy materials, Prudy Whiting said.
Cleaning up Parsonage Pond is a labor of love. “People enjoy skating on it so much, and we love this pond,” Ms. Whiting said.