August 04, 2023 5:45 pm
• Last Updated: August 04, 2023 5:45 pm
Pat Durham, of Waterford, reads a book Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, after visiting Waterford Public Library next door to the pond at Civic Triangle Park. Durham said she used to work at the library and would take her lunch breaks at the pond and had not visited the park in awhile and was rediscovering the pond. The park will be undergoing changes that includes a a concrete walkway and boardwalk. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Waterford ? In about two weeks, visitors to the Civic Triangle Park may notice the duck pond has been closed to the public.
That’s because the first two phases of the town’s long-awaited Civic Triangle Park project are scheduled to start on Aug. 14. The project had originally been approved by the Board of Selectman on December 7, 2021, and has been pushed along due to people wanting to be outdoors after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People want a sense of community. They want a sense of gathering,” First Selectman Rob Brule said Wednesday. “I look at the health of our town as the health of that pond.”
Just last month, the Board of Selectman agreed to use $945,000 from the town budget to drain and dredge the pond, along with $1.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to construct handicapped accessible sidewalks and a boardwalk, memorial plaza, lighting and landscaping, Director of Finance Kimberly Allen said.
Once finished, walkways will span the entire quarter-mile length around the pond, reaching all the way up to the library and playground areas, Planning Director Jonathan Mullen said Wednesday.
“That will be nice because it does get soggy and tough to walk through in certain areas,” said Oswegatchie resident Krystal Bette, who walked along the overgrown banks of the pond Wednesday with her 4-year-old daughter Caydence.
“I’ve been coming here for years. It’s always been one of my favorite parts of Waterford,” Bette said.
Along with pond renovations, a memorial for Army Capt. Arnold E. Holm Jr., a Vietnam war hero, that is located in a more remote section of the park, will be moved to a more visible location near the new park entrance off Rope Ferry Road, Mullen said.
The pond was built sometime in the 1960s Mullen said, although no record of it being built has been found. Since then, organic material and the runoff from Route 1 have built up a thick layer of muck on the pond’s bottom.
All of that muck will be removed and trucked to a nearby building that was the site of the former animal control facility, where it will sit for two to three weeks to dry before being sent to another facility in New York, Mullen said.
A water filter will be installed in the new pond to catch runoff from Route 1 that currently goes untreated, Mullen said.
Since the pond is fed by groundwater, there will be no need to refill it once it is dredged, Mullen said.
The initial work should be complete by November, though parts of the project could extend into next spring depending on the weather, especially rainfall.
As for the pond’s wildlife, the town will bring in a wetland scientist who has volunteered to take care of as many fish as he can, Mullen said. There will be pockets of water left that remain where the fish can live during the dreding process, Mullen said.
A landscape architect from Kent + Frost of Mystic, who developed the master plan for the project back in July of 2021, said turtles and frogs that currently live in the pond will find their way out instinctually, moving to other locations, Mullen said. There is a swamp adjacent to the pond that they could inhabit, Mullen said.
Meanwhile, town officials and residents hope that the multi-phase project will yield a cleaner, more accessible pond that will serve as the main attraction in an area they consider to be the town’s center. The park is conveniently nestled between the Town Hall, the public library and community center.
“We don’t have a main street,” Brule said Wednesday. “This needs to look beautiful and it needs to be accessible.”
Suchoki and Son Inc. of Old Lyme, the sole bidder on the project, will do the work, Brule said. The company specializes in small bridge and waterway restoration projects.
“We’re definitely looking forward to the transformation of Civic Triangle Park and providing something to the Town of Waterford that can be used for generations,” company Vice President Josh Suchoki said Thursday. “We feel that when our work is complete it will make the land more inviting to the community.”
Future phases of the Civic Triangle project could include renovations of the playground, expanding parking on the grounds of the library and adding two pickleball courts, Mullen said. Those additions have not yet been funded by the town, Allen said.
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