Duck Pond Renovations Waiting For Government Approval

Evan Prillhart, Guest Contributer •

The Emory & Henry duck pond was planned to be restored along with the Van Dyke renovations last year, but the project has been delayed because of county and government permits. The duck pond is a prominent feature on campus.

Executive Assistant to the President Mark Graham says that in order for renovations to continue, Washington County requires the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to approve the project and issue a permit for the construction. Graham says that the college and engineers believe that the project has a small enough impact to not require a permit from the USACE, saying “we think we’re exempt” from the permit, but Washington County will not give a permit for the project without USACE approval.

According to Graham, the USACE is six months behind in project approvals, and until a permit is issued construction cannot continue. After permits are issued, Graham estimates construction could take six months to complete, and that construction will hopefully begin as soon as permits are issued.

Due to structural issues in the sides of the pond, plans have been made to replace the stabilizing walls, said Graham. The plans were then expanded to include adding a gazebo by the pond and adding benches, lighting, and walkways around the pond.

There is also a bridge planned, that would make the walk from housing in the village to the main campus areas more convenient, said Graham. Apparently there used to be a bridge across the stream feeding into the duck pond, but it washed away and was never replaced.

Graham said planners thought “while we were at it, how are there ways that we can beautify it?”

Graham also said that the renovations should not increase “the footprint” of the pond by much, and that the effect on the trees around the pond will be minimal.

As far as the actual environmental impact the delays may be having, E&H Professor of Chemistry Laura Hainsworth said the impact should be minimal. Since the pond itself is manmade, the lowered water level is actually closer to its natural state.

The ducks themselves also aren’t affected much, Hainsworth said. She explained they are wild, migratory birds, and as such are free to move in search of milder temperatures and reliable food sources.

She also pointed out some migratory animals don’t migrate because of milder temperatures.

Since the pond is spring fed, the water maintains a nearly constant temperature year-round.

The duck pond project will match the look and style of other projects on campus, said Graham. The plans are designed to fit in with the alumni plaza on campus, as well as with the Van Dyke Plaza area. Later projects will also fit in thanks to Bill Monroe, the master planner for the college, who is designing many of the projects around campus.

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