SOUTHINGTON — After high costs upended a plan to improve Camp Sloper’s pond, YMCA officials are looking at another approach that will help preserve the water feature and keep it usable for this summer.
Mark Pooler, Southington-Cheshire YMCA executive director, said he’s looking for town approval to modify dredging plans for the pond.
The YMCA had wanted to remove 125,000 cubic feet of silt and sediment from the pond by draining and dredging it. Pooler said the work is necessary to keep the pond from turning into a marsh and becoming unusable to camp-goers.
He’d hoped to spend no more than $3 million on the project, which also included boardwalks, nature view platforms and other camp amenities. Estimates for the dredging portion alone were far higher than expected.
“It was anywhere between $6 million and $12 million, way out of price range,” Pooler said.
In addition to being expensive, the pond would have been drained during work and wouldn’t have been available for summer campers.New approach
YMCA leaders are now looking for quotes on floating a barge in the pond and sucking out silt and sediment rather than draining it. That avoids much of the expense and allows the pond to be used this summer.
“We hope to get down to the same depth,” Pooler said. “We believe we can still do that hydraulically but it might be over the course of a couple of years.”
Pumping would take place in the spring and fall.
Pooler said he hopes to get cost estimates for the work later this year.
Boardwalks and platforms at the camp won’t be part of the project due to the cost. Pooler said he’d still like to add those things to Camp Sloper though.
“We’re going to have to look a little differently at that,” he said. “They’re out of our price range right now. We’ll keep them on our long range master plan.”
Campers this summer will still be able to use the pond.
“We’ve got great camp enrollment right now at Sloper and other camps,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a great summer abiding by all state safety guidelines.”
Two years ago, the Town Council allowed the YMCA to apply for state grants through the town. Tom Lombardi, council vice chairman, said the council’s vote in 2019 was a “no-brainer.” Since then though the council hasn’t had an opportunity to assist the YMCA on the pond project.
“I hope they can get it done,” Lombardi said.