There could be big things coming to the Southington YMCA’s Camp Sloper in the coming years – and it will all start with a simple dredging of Sloper Pond.
Representatives of Camp Sloper presented initial plans for a dredging of the pond Tuesday evening at the Southington Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, but the $2.6 million project could mean so much more for residents and camp-goers.
The long-term plan is still in the initial stages, YMCA Outdoor Center Director Mark Pooler said, but it will mean additional activities and a detailed renovation that will help the lake remain pristine for generations to come.
“(The pond) has provided endless opportunities and outcomes for Southington children,” Pooler said. “It’s been home to literally tens of thousands of kids where they learned to swim, spent time with mom and dad, went boating and more. We hope to continue to provide these kinds of opportunities for years to come.”
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The primary reason for the project is to dredge the lake of 112 years of sediments that have built up along the bottom said Stephen Giudice, principal with Harry E. Cole & Son. The pond was built in 1900 and has not had a proper cleaning since then.
As a result of this, Giudice said Tuesday that the lake has as much as 140,000 cubic yards of sediment that has not been cleaned properly since the pond was first established. The project would involve the removal of up to 125,912 cubic yards of material. The material, said to have tested as some of the cleanest sediment available from a lake, could go to a developer on West Street although no plans have been finalized.
In addition to the dredging, the project would also include the installation of an outlet pipe to allow for pond draining and future cleanings, replacement of culverts and repairing the dam. It would also place safety precautions in place to try and prevent flood issues in the event of severe weather such as continued heavy rains.
“The Y went back and forth with whether they are trying to do too much or should plan for even more,” Giudice said. “The design is to what the YMCA should need for the largest effort possible and if the funding is not there, they will scale it back.”
But the project doesn’t stop at providing a cleaner, safer pond either. There are educational opportunities within the proposal that will enhance what is already offered at the camp, both Giudice and Pooler said.
The plan would include the installation of handicap access boardwalks along the lake, a rope swing for campers and families to use and perhaps the most impressive aspect, a glass-bottomed boat with line and glass platforms that would allow for children to ride across the lake and get a first-hand look at the ecosystem lying beneath the waters.
With the YMCA about to undergo a considerable expansion at their campus on North Main Street, this would be the next logical step for the organization, Pooler said.
While the plan is coming before the planning commission now, however, Pooler said it would likely be several years before the camp receives all necessary approvals and has found the money to move forward with the project.
“This is a $2.6 million project and to date, we have $1,000 so it is going to take a lot of effort to get where we need to be,” Pooler said.
“It’s going to take a few years and we are in permit process now. The YMCA expansion is a priority at this point. Unless we find a magical money tree, or some interested donor steps up to provide the funding, the best-case scenario is that this is probably about three years out.”
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