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Weber’s duck pond gets a facelift

The newly completed renovation of the Ada Lindquist Plaza and Pond, added many aesthetic and environmental features to the pond.

The renovations of the Ada Lindquist Plaza and Pond that started in July 2023 are officially finished. The updates included aesthetic, practical and environmental improvements to the well-known “duck pond” of Weber State University.

“We’re really pleased with the project,” Norm Tarbox, senior vice president of Administrative Services, said. “It’s given the Lindquist Plaza and Pond a new life.”

The state of Utah paid for the $1.8 million renovation of the roughly 50-year-old pond which began just after WSU’s annual Lindquist Pops Concert.

“That’s a fundamental function of the campus. It’s not just there to be pretty,” Tarbox said.

The waterfalls, fountain and famous swimming ducks attract onlookers on a regular basis, but there is more to the pond than outward beauty.

“At this point in time, it was an urgent priority,” Tarbox said. “It had lost most of its capacity to hold water because of all of the sediment and things that have settled in the bottom of the pond. We did our best to try and keep it functioning.”

According to Drew Hodge, WSU’s Water Conservation and Sustainability Specialist, the pond is a retention basin and catches stormwater and snow runoff, and allows for sediment and pollutants to settle before the water flows to rivers and streams in the area.

“We release it out of the retention pond, much cleaner,” Hodge said. “I think at the pond’s heart, it’s more of an environmental feature than an aesthetic feature.”

Hodge says the water in the pond comes from the majority of WSU’s Ogden campus, as well as from neighborhoods to the south.

This project helped to increase the pond’s usability as a source of water conservation and a source of water for the community to use in the future.

“The water from the pond will also be used to irrigate the campus, acting as a secondary water source,” Chad Downs, senior project manager, said.

The renovation included lining the bottom and side walls of the pond with cement. First, the floor was lowered by 4 feet, more than doubling the pond’s retention capacity.

The new 6-inch thick cement lining will aid in the periodic cleaning of the pond’s floor and prevent algae from overblooming. According to Downs, this was one of the primary goals of the renovation.

“We opted to put that concrete down, and it’s really well enforced, so we can drive heavy equipment on there,” Hodge said. “It’s going to be a pretty huge improvement and pretty amazing, I think, to see how much easier and how much cleaner we can get the pond.”

WSU students are glad to know the pond’s facelift was about more than vanity.

“It’s amazing to hear that there was actually, like, an environmental purpose towards it and that this was taken into account. I think that’s a really cool benefit,” Jace Pincombe, a WSU student, said.

The pond’s main water feature, a vertical fountain, had operational issues. The new fountain has greater control and can spray water up to 80 feet.

Tarbox mentioned that due to French Engineering and a new nozzle the fountain “shoots like a fire hose.”

Pincombe compared the new fountain to a “geyser.”

“It was a fun little moment,” Pincombe said. “To make a comparison, like, Yellowstone.”

One issue the fountain creates in the winter is a thin layer of ice on the trees and surrounding plaza from the mist.

“Which is a nice problem to have,” Tarbox said. “It’s just really an impressive feature.”

As the temperatures of Utah winter are starting to drop, the pond’s surface is freezing too. Tarbox said student recreation on the pond is likely in the future, however, the question of Wildcats ice skating on the pond is still in the air.

“There will be, I think, calls for some student activities there at the Lindquist plaza,” Tarbox said. “Our vice president over student access and success has already talked to me about it.”

Safety is a concern to Tarbox, especially with the increased depth of the water.

“Not that you can’t drown in 2 feet of water, you can, but it’s a lot easier to drown in 6 feet of water,” Tarbox said. “It’s just something that we’ll have to be vigilant about.”

Logistics of events and safety have not yet been sorted out.

“I have no idea how deep that ice layer gets and whether or not it will be safe. I don’t want to be the one to strap on skates and go test it,” Tarbox said.

The renovations of the pond came with several other campus construction projects.

“In truth, campus was a bit of a wreck in the year 2000, and it’s really just a function of the age of the place,” Tarbox said.

WSU’s campus was rapidly built in the mid-50s to 60s to accommodate the rush of Baby Boomer students.

“All of the Baby Boomers, all of the war veterans came back to college and completely transformed American higher education,” Tarbox said.

This swift decade of construction created an issue of the buildings aging at the same time – all needing to be rebuilt at the same time.

WSU is almost through with the urgent renovations.

“Just about every square foot of campus has been improved,” Tarbox said. “It doesn’t mean we’re done forever. But I do think, as an institution, we have the luxury of turning our attention to other things and spending our resources a little bit differently over the next 10 to 15 years.”

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Gretel Monjar, Asst. News Editor
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