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City to remove fence around 19th Street detention pond, invites the public to offer ideas for amenities

Most of the 19th Street stormwater-detention pond is seen in a photo this month by its southeast corner near the intersection of Dale and 17th streets. The barbwire fence around it is visible in the lower foreground and also paralleling Dale Street at far left. The building facing out past the far end of the pond is along 19th Street. The city plans to remove the fence, starting this month.
Westside Pioneer photo
       The barbwire fence around the 19th Street stormwater-detention pond is coming down.
       A City Street Division crew plans to start the removal effort in mid-January, depending on the weather. Cole Platt, the division's program supervisor, predicted that it would take about a week. A few workers with mechanized equipment will first detach the 6-foot-high fence and roll it up - possibly for future use elsewhere in the city - then come back to take out the posts, he said.
       The effect will be the opening of a new open space for the public. Located just north of the Uintah Gardens shopping center for nearly half a century, the pond is off Dale Street, between 19th and 17th streets. The size is shown on the County Assessor's website as just over 4 acres.
       During heavy rain periods, such as in 2013, the pond has been known to fill nearly to the brim. But most of the time it is dry, or carries only small amounts of runoff that trickle in from multiple underground pipes on its north (uphill side). As a detention (not retention) pond, it's intended only to keep water from getting into the city storm drains too quickly, and in the process to settle out any sediment or gravel.
       The idea of removing the fence arose during a major city reconstruction of the pond that ended in December. The $400,000 project regraded the site, expanded its capacity and built a rock structure around a major inlet pipe to slow the force of water coming in and an outlet structure to do the same thing going out.
       No special amenities, such as marked trails or playground equipment are planned for public use. “We're just going to take the fence down,” said Tim Mitros, the city's stormwater manager, “and try to keep it clean.”
       The city is open to suggestions. “It could be a neighborhood park,” he said. “I'd rather see people enjoying the property.”
       As an example, Mitros noted a detention pond in the Briargate area that has a soccer field; “and in Denver, there's a lot of that [detention ponds with public uses].”
       The only catch, as he's pointed out previously, is that the city is not prepared to go in by itself and spend money on improvements. So it would be up to residents, local groups or businesses to come up with ideas and bring them forward, with a private funding source possibly included, and then city officials could see how they might help.
       Regarding public use, Mitros did add the safety point that people should not be in the pond area when it rains, especially the low point at the southwest corner, where the outlet structure is located. He said signs to that effect will likely be posted.
       Cole Platt of the Street Division added his own hope that people won't use the pond as a dumping ground. Even with the fence up, city workers have routinely found shopping carts and even sofas that have been tossed over its barbwire top, he said.
       No one is sure how long the fence has been up, but it's definitely been a few decades. Local historian Mel McFarland, who writes the Cobweb Corners column for the Westside Pioneer, said he recalls the fence going up in the pond's early days out of concern for children's safety.
       Mitros has found city records showing only that the pond itself has been there since 1968.
       McFarland has also found that even before the current detention pond, another existed about where the Uintah Gardens shopping center is now. It was built after the major flooding of 1921, but eventually got filled in. McFarland's column can found at this link.
       For suggestions on public uses for the pond, Mitros' office can be reached at 385-5908.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/8/15, updated 1/13/15; Projects: Flood Control)

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