Willett Pond

Meet Willett and Pettee’s Ponds

Willett Pond and its little sister, Pettee’s Pond, together make a 220-acre waterbody. The ponds were created from a stream in 1913 when Hawes Brook was dammed at what is now Brook / Bullard Street near the boundary of Norwood and Walpole. Willett Pond is a mile and a quarter long and nearly a half-mile wide, making it the fourth-largest body of water in the Neponset Watershed. It stands 139 feet above sea level and has a maximum depth of about twenty feet.

The Ponds hold up to about 800 million gallons of water. Because much of its 4.8 square mile drainage area is undeveloped, streams entering Willett are comparatively free of fertilizers, road salts, or other contaminants, and the pond is one of the cleanest water bodies in the Neponset River Watershed. Water exiting Willett Pond flows through a spillway in the 900-ft long dam under Brook/Bullard Street and passes through Guild Pond and Ellis Pond on its way to the Neponset Mainstem near Morse Street in Norwood.

Ownership and Management

Willett was originally constructed by the Winslow Brothers and Smith Company of Norwood in order to provide water year-round for a tannery downstream on Davis Avenue in Norwood, at the site now known as the Norwood Commerce Center.

Today Willett and Pettee’s Ponds and a surrounding strip of dry land are owned by the non-profit Neponset River Landholding Association and are managed for wildlife habitat and recreation. The Land Holding Association was once a subsidiary of the Neponset Watershed Association, but the two organizations have separated, and the Watershed Association no longer has any role in managing the Ponds or the Land Holding Association. About 85 residential abutters pay annual fees that help support the maintenance of the ponds and the dam.

Public Access to Willett Pond

Although Willett Pond is private property, the Watershed Association owns a public access and flow easement covering much of the Willett Pond property. The easement ensures the public’s right to use the pond for passive, non-motorized recreational use, in accordance with the pond use rules.

The public can access the small beach off Brook Street in Walpole, near the intersection of Pettee’s Pond Lane. From the beach, the public is able to launch canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and other small, non-motorized boats to explore the ponds. The beach may also be used for picnicking and catch-and-release fishing. Access is allowed from dawn to dusk.

Swimming is not allowed. Land access is prohibited except at the Brook Street beach. Out of respect for the Pond’s neighbors, members of the public in boats must stay 50 feet from the shore and private docks. A permit is required for groups of 6 or more (email your request to willett@neponset.org).

There soon will be one 10-minute parking spot at the beach for loading and unloading hand-carried boats. There is no public boat-trailer access. On-street parking is available along Pettee’s Pond Lane, or a short walk away at Adams Farm. Do not park in the North Walpole Fish and Game Club Parking Lot.

Flow Easement

The Watershed Association also retains a flow easement that allows us to release water stored in the pond during the dry summer months to help augment stream flows in Hawes Brook and the Neponset River downstream. Ensuring adequate seasonal flows downstream is important for protecting fish and wildlife and river recreation.

Flora and Fauna

Willett is home to a diverse aquatic biota including many submersed aquatic plants and eleven species of fish. A variety of small mammals, turtles, and birds including great blue herons and bald eagles also frequent the pond. For questions or concerns about Willett Pond, please contact Executive Director, Ian Cooke at 781-575-0354 x 305 or cooke@neponset.org.

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