Thursday, Jul 09, 2020

A Few Clouds, 92 °F

Emeriti Park will see improvements this summer, including pond dredging and additional lighting.

Emeriti Park will see improvements this summer, including pond dredging and additional lighting.

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Emeriti Park to see improvements this summer

Pond will be dredged, lighting added

Visitors to Emeriti Park next to Baker University Center will see a temporary interruption to the serenity of the area this summer, as several construction improvements are underway, including pond dredging and additional lighting features.

The pond was excavated at a depth of 8 feet in 1998 and has steadily collected silt over the years, to such an extent that it’s now 4-feet deep in some places, according to Mark Whitney, design and construction project manager for Ohio University.

“The overall health of the pond is better with the proper depth, so I was charged with finding a means to dredge it to its original contours,” he explained.

Although traditional pond dredging involves draining the pond and using heavy machinery to haul away the silt, the University has sought an environmentally-friendly method that will leave a small environmental impact on the park. Two divers with hoses attached to a suction pump will suck up sediment from the pond floor and pump it into two large 3,000 cubic feet geotextile fabric bags that will be located near Ping Center along South Green Drive. The project will begin in mid-July and is expected to take two weeks, weather permitting.

“Every day the bags will be filled and the water portion will slowly drain out and go into the old river channel,” he said.

The pond, which is fed from a continuous water source upstream, should not experience any drop in the water level. “When we built the pond, we put in a well that has a sensor so when the pond level drops to a certain level, it recharges the pond,” Whitney added.

This method of dredging the pond should not be detrimental to the fish either, he noted. “We’re avoiding the time of year when the fish spawn so the action doesn’t disturb the eggs,” he said.

During dredging, equipment and hoses may be placed across the sidewalk in the park, so the area could be closed to traffic until the project is complete.

“We’re putting signage near the bags to educate people what the project is about. It’s a very environmentally-friendly way of doing the operation, so we want to be able to explain to people what we’re doing,” he said.

After the geotextile bags dry for 60 days, the silt material will be taken to the compost area at The Ridges for processing.

Additional lighting also will be added this summer as part of a University initiative that includes refurbishment of the College Green Alumni Gate and walkway leading to Cutler Hall. Nine energy-efficient LED pathway pole lights and two LED pedestal lights will be added within Emeriti Park to enhance the safety, usability and look of the area at night. The project cost was aided in part by the Emeriti Park Alumni Committee.

“The lights conform to our standard of being shielded from shedding light upward, which would increase the ambient light level in the sky and interfere with astronomers and star gazers view of the night sky,” Whitney said.

OHIO Landscape Coordinator Susan Calhoun said flowers also are being planted throughout the park, with the assistance of Emeriti Park volunteers and students. Any damaged turf created from pond dredging also will be reseeded, she noted.