But while the small pond may be out of sight, out of mind for most residents, the debris cleared by the Ridgewood Wildscape Association in a cleanup last weekend has an impact reaching far beyond its wooded enclave.
The area is aptly named for its nineteenth century residents, a Gypsy encampment that worked for nearby manufacturers and had a transient history across Bergen County. But the pond’s history is not the reason more than forty volunteers donned gloves and boots on Sunday to clear litter from the water.
“You need a healthy water system to keep everything else healthy,” said Ellie Gruber of Ridgewood Wildscape. “People do not understand how important it is. Without a healthy water system everything else is history.”
The pond is connected to Goffle Brook and nearby King’s Pond, giving the debris that builds up in its water far reaching consequences for river banks, the nearby ecosystem and flooding in the area.
Ridgewood Wildscape has attended to environmental cleanups in the village annually since 2007, Gruber said. This year’s cleanup of Gypsy Pond was the first since Hurricane Sandy added to the regular runoff of litter to the water, and the haul was a “tremendous success,” she said.
Volunteers, supplied and supported by the municipality, filled 28 contractor-sized garbage bags with unrecyclable litter in their few hours at the pond. Propane tanks, sleeping bags, crates, tires and a 250-pound bridge were among the items pulled from the water.
While the work is a constant upkeep, it’s a labor of love.
“Everyone gets dirty, everyone is pulling together,” Gruber said. “Whatever pictures are taken those [cleanup] days, the smiles on people’s faces tell the tale.”
The association chooses a location to spruce up each fall, supported by volunteers from various houses of worship, the Rotary Club, and the Ridgewood Environmental Advisory Committee, among others. Previous sites have included the Dunham Trail that runs between Spring Avenue and Grove Street, and the Gypsy’s neighbor, King’s Pond.
But Gypsy Pond is a favorite, with much work to make the secluded spot clean and pristine, Gruber said.
“Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not the most valuable thing you have.”