SOUTHINGTON – The YMCA got an extension from the town for dredging work at the Camp Sloper pond, but still need to raise about $4 million for the work.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a five-year extension last week. The entire commission voted in favor, with one abstention.
Town Planner Rob Philips said the initial approval had expired.
YMCA Operations Director Mark Pooler said the group still needs to raise $3.8 to $4 million to dredge the pond. The pond is the “centerpiece” of the camp at 1000 East St., according to Pooler.
“We’re kind of in this holding pattern until we get the funding for it,” he said. “It’s still in our plans, it’s still in our hopes.”
The YMCA has the required work permits from federal, state and local authorities.
There’s no immediate concern, but without dredging the pond will eventually turn into a swamp as leaves, soil and other material collect. Test borings five years ago showed there was 20 feet of silt and sediment in the pond.
The dredging project is aimed at maintaining the pond long term.
“The pond is in good health,” Pooler said. “Our hope and our responsibility is to make sure this pond is here for generations and generations to come.”
Pooler and other YMCA officials are trying to determine if there are government grants available. With the state’s current fiscal situation, he’s not too hopeful for the short term.
“That’s what we’re kind of in the middle of now, figuring out how we’re going to pay for this,” he said.
Later this month, residents will jump into the Camp Sloper pond as part of the polar plunge fundraiser. During warmer months, campers canoe, fish and swim on the pond. It’s central to a lot of the camp programs, Pooler said.
“In summer it’s where half the kids in town learn where to swim,” he said.