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A new quiet place

Oleson Park pond project wrapping up; offers place for people to reflect, enjoy nature

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
A new landscape pond at Oleson Park is nearly finished. The pond, located approximately where the former Oleson Park Zoo pond used to sit, includes 39 koi fish.

A new pond is making a splash at Oleson Park.

The pond is located approximately where the pond in the former Oleson Park Zoo was located. The $218,000 project by Country Landscapes, of Ames, was approved by the Fort Dodge City Council last August and is nearly complete.

“It turned out fantastic,” said Lori Branderhorst, director of Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry. “We absolutely love it.”

The pond is shaped like a kidney bean and is approximately 100 feet long by 60 feet wide and is about 6 feet deep. The pond is filled with fresh water supplied by a municipal water line.

Right now, the water in the pond has gone a little cloudy, Branderhorst said, but the parks department is in the process of treating the water to make it clearer.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
A new pond at Oleson Park features 39 koi fish. While the edges of the pond feature steps to sit on, swimming and wading in the pond is prohibited.

The pond is stocked with about 39 koi fish, a sort of large goldfish. The fish also contribute to the cleanliness of the pond as they eat the algae as it builds up, Branderhorst said.

This new space is a perfect place to “sit and listen and just be quiet with nature and quiet with yourself and quiet with your space,” she said. “And that’s one of the things that’s so cool about this feature, is listening to the water.”

While the pond creates a scenic view to enjoy, Branderhorst said that some parkgoers have been less than respectful to the space.

“People have been swimming in it,” she said. “And they’re walking along the rocks and there have been some tears in the liner already.”

The pond is not for swimming or wading, she said, but to enjoy the view and aquatic life.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Hundreds of tiny tadpoles have found a new home in the pond at Oleson Park.

“It’s been really frustrating from our end,” Branderhorst said.

There are some rock steps near the edge of the pond that some have used as steps to get into the water, Branderhorst said, but instead should be used as a place to sit and relax and enjoy the view.

“This is just purely a landscape pond and it’s meant to be enjoyed from the side,” she said.

The parks department have added security cameras in the area and warning signs will be put up, the parks director said. Branderhorst said the parks department is willing to prosecute individuals who disobey the warnings to stay out of the water.

“We’re a little frustrated about that side of the public not being responsible with that feature,” she said.

The city intends to add some benches and other amenities around the pond for park visitors to enjoy.

“We feel that this transformed the park,” Branderhorst said. “That pond is absolutely beautiful.”

Branderhorst also warns that citizens should not try to feed the koi fish in the pond, nor should they attempt to add any other fish to the water, as the pond is a specifically designed aquatic ecosystem and everything that the contractors put in it has a purpose.

“If they are being fed, they won’t eat the algae and do the work they’re supposed to be doing,” she said.

With the conclusion of this project, the city will move on to the next phase of park improvements at Oleson Park. This next phase includes building a new community shelter and upgrading the handicap accessibility of the park and pond area.

Branderhorst noted that this pond was a large investment for the city and taxpayers.

“We hope people go out and enjoy it and watch for our next phases that we’ll be working on later this summer,” she said.

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