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FYI. This appears in the Broomfield Enterprise (but you need to register with them in order to view it)...

People jog or walk their dogs regularly along Josh's Pond, passing with waves or stopping to chat. It's a place to slow down and catch up in this western Broomfield enclave.

It's easy to see how the tranquil nature of the 2-acre pond nestled in the 25-year-old Lac Amora neighborhood is a magnet for neighbors. It will soon be an even nicer place to bond, say city officials. They want to clear out the muddy bottom that is contributing to dying fish, odors and other problems.

Crews will peel away 15 years worth of built-up muck from the bottom of the pond and upgrade the aeration system to add oxygen needed by fish and plants. The pond has aged quickly with the influence of the area's popularity, size and sediments picked up in stormwater runoff, said Hallie Mahan, supervisor of the city's environmental laboratories.

The muddy bottom and decaying plants are eating away at the pond's oxygen, leaving the fish stocked by the Division of Wildlife with little to live on, leading periodically to masses of dying fish, said Kathy Schnoor, supervisor of city environmental services. The aeration system that adds oxygen to the water also will be upgraded.

"This is a process that's going to recur, especially in a stormwater-fed pond," Mahan said. "This should prolong the life of the pond."

The estimated cost of the project is between $119,000 and $135,000 and will be paid for from the city parks maintenance budget, according to city Public Works officials. It should be finished by December. The pond was last dredged about 15 years ago, said Bill Cooksey, parks maintenance supervisor.

The aerators were added in 1994 and fish stocking began in 1995 with the help of a Fishing is Fun state grant, Cooksey said. About 40 pounds of fish are added to the pond each year.

The pond was named after Josh Cassell, a boy who lived with his family in a corner house bordering open space that hugs the water. Cassell died in 1991, at 10, and the city dedicated the pond in his memory in 1993. The inscription reads, "This park was the place Josh enjoyed most."

Neighbor Greg Boehme remembers Cassell's connection. The boy and Boehme's son, Bobby, played together when they were children.

The families, along with others in Lac Amora, bonded over block parties and other fun, such as on the trails of Josh's Pond, Boehme said.

"To me, it's kind of a center place, a gathering place," he said. "I see significantly more people going around walking and using it now than ever."

Boehme bought his house more than 20 years ago and soon after recognized a neighbor who moved in down the street.

Clark Griep, now a City Councilman and mayoral candidate, and Boehme had worked together years before at a moving and storage company in Boulder. Griep's wife, Joan, took their son to a neighborhood child-care service operated by Boehme's wife and soon, the group put two and two together.

"Josh's Pond and the mountain view that provides its backdrop are the reasons we moved to Broomfield in the first place," Griep said, adding he first saw the neighborhood at a friend's barbecue in 1982.

He commented on the view and his buddy said the place next door was for sale.

"So, we bought it. Now, we will never leave," Griep said. "It is a close-knit neighborhood. Our families get together for most of the holidays. We help each other out a lot."

Lac Amora is like many neighborhoods around the city, contributing to the city's small-town feel.

Resident Gary Berlin, who has lived up the street from Josh's Pond for 23 years, picks up trash there. He wants to be sure the area is restored to a natural state, in vegetation and wildlife habitat, after the project.

"It appears to me they're doing that," he said.

Berlin was among about a dozen Lac Amora residents on hand Wednesday night to see how the city plans to clean up their treasured pond.

Several people worry about the impacts to turtles, blue heron, foxes and other wildlife. City officials said they'll take care to protect wildlife and wetlands in the area.

As for the muck itself, it'll be banished to restoration projects at Broomfield County Commons, Schnoor said. It will be laid on open space areas to be reseeded with native grasses.
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