Conservation sees lake restoration take shape

Crews with PCI, the contractor charged with the Central Park Lake Restoration Project, works to place rock along the shoreline of the lake. The project has been taking shape, with an expected completion date in the fall of 2018. (Photo submitted)

Jones County Conservation Director Brad Mormann points out areas of improvements throughout the lake. The Lake Restoration Project is one of the biggest projects Conservation has taken on since Mormann came on board. (Photo by Kim Brooks)

The in-water cement was poured last week for a new boat ramp behind the Nature Center. Several new access points for boats and fishing will be added to the Central Park Lake Project. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Central Park Lake project is taking shape.

     During a recent interview with the Monticello Express, Jones County Conservation Director Brad Mormann shared several items that are being crossed off the list in terms of the complete lake dredging project.

     The physical work began in November, with the contractor, PCI, preferring to start during the winter months.

     “They showed up with their equipment and got to work,” Mormann said.

     Initial work included clearing off the vegetation that grew on the lakebed after it dried up.

     “Removing the vegetation will allow the ground to freeze quicker,” explained Mormann. He said the frozen ground allows for the heavy trucks and equipment to get around the park better.

     PCI also installed erosion control fencing.

     When driving into Central Park, you’ll notice rock that has been placed along the shoreline. This is being added to help shape the shoreline above what will be dredged.

     “They’re adding rock and even more rock,” said Mormann.

     Behind the Nature Center, crews installed the in-water portion of a new boat ramp.

     Mormann added that the fishing pier pilings are in, and crews leveled the shoreline between the boat ramp and the pier.

     “That will allow it to be ADA accessible,” he said.

     A sidewalk will also be poured, providing access to the pier. “This will increase what was originally proposed for ADA access,” Mormann said. “Something we didn’t have before.”

     Within the lakebed, underwater reef structures were added.

     Mormann said much of the lake would be dredged yet this winter,

     “There is some major dredging and hauling yet to do,” he said.

     Other major work remaining includes finishing the rock along the shoreline, replacing the spillway pipe, completing the boat ramp, and building the beach and fishing access points.

     “Everything has gone fairly smooth,” remarked Mormann of the work completed thus far. “We’re just waiting for the proper weather conditions for the contractor, but we’re on track.”

     Conservation is planning to have the lake project completed by fall of 2018.

     “We’ve been getting some very positive support,” offered Mormann. “The park is the center of the county, and a lot of people and families have great memories of this place.”

     Once it’s time for the lake to fill up, Mormann said the gate would be closed, allowing nature to do its job.

     “Two or three decent rain events will cause water to flow down the valley and into the lake,” Mormann said.

     Aside from the dredging of the lake, Mormann said PCI will also dredge the park’s upper wetland to help capture additional sediment from entering the lake.

     “It’s all about improving the water quality,” he said.

     The Central Park Lake Restoration Project is one of the biggest to take shape since Mormann came on board in 2013.

     “It’s a neat project,” he said. It will ultimately improve the park as a whole, which includes the lake, access points, the watershed; the whole package.

     “This project started years before I got here and has progressed to get to this point,” said Mormann. He credits the Conservation Board and Conservation’s partners and the county for having the foresight to see Central Park improved for future generations. “We’ve come a long way,” added Mormann.

     He said since the physical work started on the lake, several people throughout the county have been driving around the park to see the progress. “There’s a tremendous amount of interest,” Mormann said.

     This lake project is estimated to cost around $2.6 million. The Jones County Supervisors pledged $560,000 toward the project, with Conservation kicking in $29,000. The remaining funds stem from grants and donations.

     Another project in Conservation’s lap is the removal of Mon Maq Dam in Monticello.

     “That project is still moving forward, and we’re working on additional funding sources,” shared Mormann.

     Conservation was awarded two DOT grants, plus an engineering grant, with a portion of that already spent. One of the DOT grants filtered through the Federal Highway Administration. Mormann said the Conservation Board chose not to utilize the Federal Highway grant because they would then have oversight on the dam project.

     “One concern the (Conservation) board had was that the highway administration would choose which direction they wanted our project to take,” he explained. Mormann said this action was also explained in detail at a recent Conservation Board meeting. “The board felt that this would not be appropriate for a county-owned facility.” Mormann said using the funds would have allowed an outside entity to control the fate of the dam project.

     While this significantly reduces the amount of funding in hand, Mormann said they are searching for additional funding and/or adjusting the scope of the overall project “to fit the funding we do have.

     “Our goal is to do what’s best for the county’s interest,” he said.


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