The Central Valley Pond

Photo By Fred Ungerer






Town officials look to alternative financing to convert Central Valley Pond into a pool
Updated: April 23, 2009

Woodbury residents to vote May 5 on $1.4 million to fix Central Valley Pond

Updated: April 9, 2009  

Critics ask: Where are the guarantees this money will fix the clarity problems? By Elora Kalish

Central Valley - Voters in the Town of Woodbury will go to the polls May 5 to authorize spending $1.4 million on construction at the Central Valley Pond.

This referendum was created by petition of several Woodbury citizens who believe work on the community swimming area is moving too fast.

If voters say yes, the Town Board will have the authority to spend $500,000 from general funds and/or parkland fees which are currently available as well as the issuance of $900,000 in bonds.

The pond, which was only open for one day during the swimming season, requires major improvements in order to comply with state and county Health Department standards for a public swimming pool. County health officials classified the Central Valley Pond as a pool in 2007.

Renovations of the swimming area would address two issues. The pool classification requires the installation of a filtration system as well as a new recirculation and water treatment system.

The other, more visible problem is the lack of clarity of the pool water, which has plagued this facility for quite some time.

Riddick and Associates, the Town’s consulting engineer, has prepared a proposal designed to overcome both of these issues.

Town Supervisor John Burke said that the county has given a preliminary approval of these plans, so he said he is confident in asking the Town of Woodbury voters for the funds necessary to complete the work.

The Town Board also has hired Maser Engineering to review this plan for a second opinion, a measure designed for checks and balances and to bolster confidence in the proposed plan.

Critics say a lot of money will be spent on a project that doesn’t guarantee the water will be clear.

“I think they’re going too fast,” said John Smith of Highland Mills. “What if the $1.4 million fails?”

Others share that concern. They do not feel all alternatives have been explored, including reducing the size of the pool or challenging the pond’s pool classification status.

“There is a misconception that we’re looking to close this facility,” said Robin Crouse, also of Highland Mills. “We’re not; we’re supporters.”

Both Smith and Crouse insist their goal is for the voters to decide for themselves whether to spend an additional $1.4 million on this facility after the town spent $1.2 million back in 2006.

Burke said he is concerned about the impact of employment and enjoyment to the town residents. The Central Valley Pond typically employs 80 people during the summer season. Hundreds of people use the pond to cool off each day.

“We have many people who purposely have moved from other parts of the county because of the program and facilities we have here,” the supervisor added.

If the voters approve the bond referendum, Burke expects that work will begin as soon as possible. However, he recognizes the pool will most likely not open before the end of July.

“I still want it done and make sure it works so clearly we’re ready to open it up in 2010,” Burke said.

Background on the Central Valley Pond

Lack of water clarity has plagued the Central Valley Pond for some time. It used to be algae would develop by August, thereby rendering the bottom invisible. The water which is tested three times a day has always been safe for swimming.

In 2005, the County and State Health Departments informed the town that unless major renovation was done, the pond could not open.

A $1.2 million construction project was completed in 2006. At that time, the bottom of the pond, made of macadam (blacktop material), was beginning to break up.

In the southern end of the pond, where competitive swimming lanes were housed, the ground was soft. It was discovered that compost-like material was under the surface and so the subsurface had to be removed and reconstructed.

The diving boards were moved to a different area where the water reached eleven feet. A new wall, beneath the diving boards, was built to maintain safe diving.

In 2007 when the renovated pond opened, the water was clear. It would remain that way until it rained. Then instead of algae, the water would turn an orange-brownish color.

Chemicals would be added, the water would become clear for a few days, and then turn again after the rain.

A young man drowned in the pond in 2007. It was determined he suffered a seizure after he dove into the pond.

The bottom of the pond was not visible. The state then determined that a filtration system was necessary, and the pond was then classified as a pool. The town had until 2009 to meet public pool specifications.

Further testing reveals the orange-brownish color comes from the wall that was constructed in 2006. The new plans for the pool include sump pumps connected to underground pipes that will bring the water behind the wall to an overflow instead of it flowing back into the pool. This is designed to alleviate the problem of unclear water.

Critics of the plan say no one has said it is one hundred percent guaranteed. Woodbury Supervisor John Burke acknowledges that this “is the closest we can get to guarantees.”

Central Valley Pond

The entrance is located on Dunderberberg Road in Central Valley. The parking lot is across the street from the pond and sits down the hill from the entrance of the M-W High School. The pond is chlorinated and has a large paved and painted surface with two diving boards and two rafts, which are anchored in the deep-water section. A pavilion houses a large room for game playing. There are picnic and shaded areas and a sand bottom playground area for children. A basketball, volleyball, racquetball and tennis court are on premises and Dunderberg Baseball Field sits above on the hill. A stage area was recently added for weekend concerts and special events.