Hey! Are those fish? City pond is clear again

Visitors to Kaibara Park in downtown Kent can see fish in the park's pond clearly again. City workers drained the pond earlier this summer to clear out a foot of sludge and to seal leaks on the concrete bottom. The park is on First Avenue between West Smith and West Meeker streets.

Kaibara Park in Kent has been renovated over the summer and is near completion.  City of Kent maintenance worker Shane Sehlin plants a giant gunera near the edge of the pond Sept. 18.

Kaibara Park in Kent has been renovated over the summer and is near completion. City of Kent maintenance worker Shane Sehlin plants a giant gunera near the edge of the pond Sept. 18.

Visitors to Kaibara Park in downtown Kent can see fish in the park’s pond clearly again.

City workers drained the pond earlier this summer to clear out a foot of sludge and to seal leaks on the concrete bottom. The park is on First Avenue between West Smith and West Meeker streets.

City workers added bamboo and other plants around the pond Thursday to wrap up the renovation project at the park.

“You can now see the fish,” said Ben Levenhagen, the downtown city parks maintenance worker who coordinated the project, as he watched four large koi swim in the pond.

Nearly 60 fish, mostly goldfish, live in the pond. The pond is about 70 feet long, 30 feet wide and 3 feet deep.

“Families come over here from the library and the kids love it,” said Janet Henderson, a city park maintenance worker, as she installed a bamboo plant.

Kaibara Park has been part of the Kent park system for more than 30 years and represents the city’s sister-city connection with the Japanese town of Kaibaran. Kent’s sister city in Japan is now known as Tamba. Kaibara joined with five adjacent cities in 2003 to form the single “super city.”

The pond is an integral part of the Japanese-themed local park.

“We’re making a real effort to keep this pond up,” Levenhagen said. “It was something we needed to do. We’ll save on the water bill. It was an overdue project.”

Besides the foot of sludge on the bottom, city officials knew repairs needed to be made because of the park’s water bill totaled $17,480 since 2004, said Victoria Andrews, a city park programs manager. Rosebed Park, just south of Kaibara Park, a similar-sized park with irrigation had a water bill of $1,363 during the same period.

The city pumps fresh water into the pond through a couple of waterfalls. But much less water will need to be added now because the leaks on the cement bottom were sealed with a epoxy that is designed for ponds and safe for fish.

City workers also installed two new bio-filters, a new pump and an ultraviolet sterilizer to help keep out algae, debris, duck and fish waste. Water also recirculates to the pond from a filter tank in a nearby pump house and through a waterfall on the north end of the pond.

“You can already tell the difference,” Levenhagen said of the improved quality of the water.

The removal of the foot of sludge turned out to be one of the biggest challenges. But city workers from the Public Works Department used a vacuum truck to remove the sludge.

“That took three days,” Levenhagen said.

During the pond repairs, fish were moved to temporary fish tanks at the city’s nursery.

Now the fish are back and ready to entertain the adults and children who walk along the blacktop trail that circles the pond.

City workers also are trying to give the landscape to look more like a Japanese garden with a new mix of plants and trees around the pond and two waterfalls.

“We’re trying to bring it up to a Japanese Garden standard,” Levenhagen said. “We want to go with that theme.”

With the cleaned-up pond as the centerpiece.

“The pond looks 10 times better,” Henderson said.


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