Jasper Mayor John Weaver and city employees Richard Simmons and Gary Poole stand atop a half-finished waterfall at the Duck Pond. Other crew members were at the quarry.
The renovation at the Jasper City Park that began as a one-month endeavor has been extended to what Jasper Mayor John Weaver estimates could be as long as three months.
But, Weaver reported to city council at their October meeting on Monday, the wait will be worth it.
“We decided we would build a feature that would be something that would make the park a little more aesthetically pleasing,” Weaver said of the duck pond project that began in late August. “We have talked about this for years, and I was under the one month deadline I had given myself, but reluctantly we decided to use our manpower and our capabilities to bring several tons of Georgia marble rock that was blasted from the mines in the City of Jasper to the site and erect a large stone waterfall.”
Because the mines off Cove Road are owned by the city, the massive marble stones come to Jasper at no cost. Following the October city council meeting, the mayor said one worker estimated the stone waterfall project could have cost several hundred thousand dollars if contracted out.
“A few employees looked at me a little cross-eyed and thinking we would not be able to do it, and when I saw that attitude I knew we had to do it,” Weaver said. “We are going to have what I believe will be a beautiful waterfall that’s going to be appreciated by the people who have given up the park for a couple of months.”
According to the mayor there are now 33 stones in place at the park, which the city hopes will allow for a 600-gallon a minute waterfall to aerate the pond.
“We want it to flow directly into the lake,” he said, “and the reason we are doing that and the reason we closed the park is the vegetation had taken over the pond. For lack of a better term it was stagnant and didn’t have enough flow and oxygen replacement so we’re going to try to generate more oxygen in the water.”
When pond renovations are completed, the pond’s level will be back up to full capacity and the steep banks will be gone.
“Before if you stepped off into the water you better be able to swim,” Weaver said. “Now you will have water three to four feet away from the rest of the edge before you get in deep water.”
City Finance Director Tacie Williams said because of the use of city workers and minimal materials needed, the labor-intensive project is coming in well within budget.
“We had a net amount of $52,600 in the parks budget for parks improvement and we are only about $8,285 into that,” Williams said. “It is a major overhaul, but the salaries are in our budget and there’s no overtime associated with that. We are doing very well.”