WINDHAM — A couple has donated $20,000 in hopes of restoring the former beauty and wildlife around Moeckel Pond. 

James Finn and Elizabeth Marston made the donation to the Friends of Moeckel Pond, a nonprofit group working on a plan to restore a dam that hasn't fully functioned since 2010. 

The dam restoration could happen as soon as this summer — if enough money is raised.

Moeckel Pond was created by damming Golden Brook on the southeastern end of town. But the pond was drained in 2010 by orders from the state, turning the former picturesque pond and island into a trickling brook with a jutting mound of land. 

"We'd just like to see this completed," Finn said. "We remember when it was a pond instead of a wet meadow. There is some distance to go that we hope will be improved."  

The state ordered the 34-acre pond drained because of the poor condition of its dam, which was cracked and leaking. The dam was classified by the state as a low-hazard dam, which means it did not pass the 50-year storm test. Alterations were made to the dam, reducing water flow. 

Many residents are eager to restore it to the form it had when the Bill of Rights was signed, according to Norm Young, treasurer of the Friends of Moeckel Pond. 

Group members have mounted the "Finn Challenge," asking others to donate. Phone calls are being made. There are also other outreach efforts on social media. Contributions are tax-deductible. 

The Friends of Moeckel Pond will host additional fundraising events throughout the year.

Finn served on the town's Conservation Commission and lives near Moeckel Pond. He is retired; his wife is a company partner at Windham Packaging LLC.

"It's our biggest single donation so far and it's a donation, from our perspective, that is highly encouraging for people not only running the nonprofit and getting the work done," Young said, "but to let people in community know someone cares enough to make a substantial investment in the conservation of town resources."

Young said construction could start soon. The group has two studies being reviewed bythe state Department of Environmental Services. There are engineering studies needed and permitting approved before discussion with contractors could begin.  

The nonprofit organization has raised $240,000 of the total project cost estimated at $460,000. 

"That's our biggest challenge," Young said of the funding. "Everything else appears to be on track."

The five-person Friends of Moeckel Pond board has led the effort. The property was donated to the Friends of Moeckel Pond, which sold it to the Conservation Commission for $150,000.. Once restored, it could be used for fishing, kayaking and ice skating.

Conservation Commission Chairman Wayne Morris praised the couple's generous donation and said he hopes the area will be restored to its former condition.

"There's no water other than Golden Brook meandering through it," Morris said. "We would love to see the water back. We would love to see the wildlife. It's so much more aesthetically pleasing."

Finn agreed and said he hopes it happens soon. 

"It adds to the quality of life and gives them places to hike and see nature up close," he said. 

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