ELKO – People could fish, picnic, hike and learn about nature at a pond project that is in the budding stage now with the Nevada Department of Wildlife leading the effort and support from the City of Elko and companies.
“We’re looking at a community pond and purchasing property along 12th Street,” said Joe Doucette, Elko-based conservation educator for NDOW, who said the project will offer urban fishing for residents within Elko city limits, be a place where “kids can ride their bikes and fish,” and include a nature center for classes.
NDOW would purchase and develop the roughly 18 acre-site for $305,950 and stock and manage the fishing aspect. The Elko Parks and Recreation Department would manage the proposed Elko Community Pond that eventually would tie in with the city’s Humboldt Area River Project (HARP).
“We’re looking at a memorandum of understanding between the city and NDOW. We’d own the property, but I’m going to be honest, we’re not in the park management business,” Doucette told the Elko City Council.
He said the city would own the buildings, such as the interpretive center and bathrooms, and NDOW could provide subgrants to the city.
The council instructed city staff to draft a pact with NDOW at its Oct. 12 meeting.
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Elko Councilman Clair Morris said the Elko Community Pond would be a “great project,” and cleaning up the property would be “icing on the cake. Historically, it was a mess.”
Doucette said there were efforts in 2006-2007 to develop the pond, and the site has been “cleaned up a bit since we first looked at it 15 years ago” when there was a homeless encampment in the spot.
NDOW would be buying the property from Igloo, a nonprofit organization that Doucette said could use the money for an outdoor ice rink, so the purchase would have a “dual benefit.”
“I would suspect it is going to be several months before we are able to actually purchase the property. There has been a hold up on the appraisal, but it hopefully will be coming soon,” he said.
Assistant City Manager Scott Wilkinson said the site is east of the 12th Street bridge along Sharps Access, generally across from the Amtrak stop.
There are three ponds in the purchase area, but the focus will be on the larger pond, with plans to deepen the pond, reduce the slope of the banks and clean up the weeds and debris on those slopes.
Doucette said one of the smaller ponds will be left in its natural state, and the trail would border it.
The fish stocked in the main pond will mainly be bass, and there may be rainbow trout added for “fishing clear into the winter,” he told the council.
Doucette also said the Elko Community Pond would be like the Carlin Chinese Gardens, the “flagship” Oxbow Nature Study Area in Reno, Verdi Center at Verdi, and the James Kinney Pond in Winnemucca, which is the newest project involving NDOW.
A draft timeline calls for the site to be open to the public in October of next year, and planning and construction of the nature center would begin in June 2023. Planning and building a footbridge to HARP would start in August 2023.
Cost estimates include the $305,950 for purchasing the land, roughly $170,000 to dredge the pond, 20 to 80 cents per square foot for bank turf, $80,000 for a parking lot, $65,000 per mile for 0.6 miles of trail using paid employees, and $30,000 for bathrooms, according to the presentation.
Volunteers for the trail work would trim costs, Doucette said.
Along with the city, other interested partners so far that may donate time or volunteer labor and equipment include Kinross Gold Corp., NV Energy, Komatsu, and Rockwell Mining and Industrial. Komatsu has offered equipment for the dredging.
Doucette said he was talking with Nevada Gold Mines about a financial contribution, but NGM wants to see the city’s commitment first.