CA approves dredging of Bowl Pond Cleaning is to cost no more than $150,000

September 27, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Association voted last night to dredge up some old memories.

For nine years, the Bowl Pond in Oakland Mills village has been off limits to regular maintenance and dredging. That's because of a 1987 gasoline spill at a nearby Shell station, which sent about 1,000 gallons of fuel into ground water below the pond and forced authorities to set up pumps and monitoring wells in the pond.

"The environmental people went bongos," recalled Joe Loftus, whose back yard slopes toward the pond.

Consequently, the Columbia Association (CA) -- the huge homeowners' association that manages parkland and recreation facilities in Columbia -- was not permitted to perform regular maintenance. The pond became overgrown with weeds, muck and pieces of trash, according to CA officials.

As a picturesque habitat, it became the stuff of memories.

"It's a mess right now," said Alex Hekimian, who represents Oakland Mills on CA's board of directors.

Loftus said he is one of the few people who visit the pond regularly. He said he has cleared off a tee area on the pond's berm, and regularly lofts pitching wedge shots into his back yard, about 90 yards away. He said he has broken two windows in his house and dumped at least 100 balls into the muck.

"That's my pond," he proclaimed last night during a quarterly meeting of CA's board of directors.

Recently, environmental authorities gave the ground water under the pond a clean bill of health. Last night, CA's board voted unanimously to spend $20,000 to design a dredging cleanup.

The total project, which is expected to cost no more than $150,000, could be completed within two years, according to CA.

Loftus told CA's board he was concerned that when dredged, the pond would become deep enough that children from nearby apartment complexes could drown. But CA officials said signs would be posted around the pond.

In other action last night, the board voted to extend by three years a service contract with Arthur Andersen LLP, CA's outside accounting firm.

The contract had been put out to bid three years ago. While not the lowest, Arthur Andersen's bid was among the lower bids and it was selected because of the company's quality service, said David Berson, a board member from River Hill village.

Berson recommended the contract be extended because Arthur Andersen offered a lower price than it did three years ago. Berson said CA probably should take bids from other firms three years from now.

Pub Date: 9/27/96

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