This post was originally published in the Victoria Advocate as a letter to the editor.
We understand residents’ frustration with the lengthy closure of the duck pond. The repair and reopening of the duck pond is a more complicated process than residents may realize, and although it might seem like no progress is taking place, the City is working diligently behind the scenes to bring back this beloved community fixture.
The length of the closure is due to the extent of the damage (and the resulting need to procure funds for repairs) as well as delays related to our grant from Texas Parks & Wildlife.
When the duck pond first closed in 2018 due to sidewalk damage that was partly caused by Hurricane Harvey, we hoped that we would be able to fix it quickly, but after crews drained the pond, they found structural damage that required an extensive rebuilding costing about $1.25 million.
The City Council approved a design contract for the pond in 2020. The same year, to be good stewards of taxpayer money, we applied for a Texas Parks & Wildlife matching grant to cover half the cost of the project. In order to be eligible for the grant, we were not able to proceed with construction as we waited to learn whether we would receive the grant.
In May 2021, we were notified that we had been selected to receive funding. Another stipulation of the grant process was that Texas Parks & Wildlife officials had to tour the site and review construction documents before we could formally accept the matching grant.
In November 2021, the City Council approved a contract to accept the grant, which allowed the City to submit a request for proposals and seek bids for the project.
We had hoped to begin construction earlier this year, but the bidding process is taking longer than expected because contract negotiations are being complicated by inflation and the rising cost of goods and services. We hope to bring a construction contract to the City Council in the summer. If this is accomplished, construction on the duck pond will begin in the fall. Construction will take approximately 14-16 months to complete.
If residents have any questions, they may contact my office at 361-485-3200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Alfaro is the director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Victoria.