Construction on El Dorado Park duck pond to begin despite $2 million funding gap

Construction on the El Dorado Park duck pond project is set to begin next week, but finding another $2 million to finish the work remains unresolved.

The $9 million project was approved by the Long Beach City Council in December after being delayed for most of the year because the city received no bids for the work, which includes wetlands landscaping, plugging leaks and cracks in the pond’s structure and fixing a pedestrian walkway that poses accessibility issues.

Los Angeles Engineering was ultimately awarded a $5.5 million contract for construction on the project that was once estimated to cost $4.5 million but is now listed at $9 million.

Funding for the project is coming from a variety of sources, including the city’s Measure A sales tax revenue, Los Angeles County’s Measure W safe water tax revenue, and the Long Beach Water Department, which is contributing over $1.1 million in federal grant money.

On Thursday, the city’s Water Commission approved an application that the department submitted that could bring at least $2 million more from the state’s pot of $300 million that it set aside for its Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief program during the last budget cycle.

The grants are being issued to municipalities for things like new wells, water recycling centers and water storage projects like the El Dorado duck pond, which will increase the city’s ability to store rainwater and will serve as a source of irrigation for an adjacent golf course.

However, a presentation given to the board Thursday noted that the grants are extremely competitive, with the state already awarding over $55 million and applicants from prior rounds being prioritized over new applications. The duck pond was one of 10 applications the department submitted, and the commission was told “we’d be lucky to win one.”

A rendering of the proposed improvements to the El Dorado Park duck pond.

Funding for the project is not entirely dependent on the grant, but getting $2 million or more from a state grant that doesn’t require any matching funds from the city could free up money that could be dedicated to the project to pay for other things in the city.

When the City Council approved the city’s budget in September it agreed to put projects like the duck pond restoration, a feasibility study for creating new public pools in North Long Beach, new historic street lamps in Bluff Park and replacing a burned down playground at Admiral Kidd Park as “high priority” projects that could be funded by excess Measure A money.

The first phase of construction is expected to start the week of Jan. 24 when 27 non-native trees will be removed. They’re scheduled to be replaced with 33 new trees once the project is completed. Other phases, like removing the wildlife from the pond itself, is still pending approval from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is reviewing the city’s plan for the fish, turtles and other animals that live in the pond, a Public Works spokesperson said.

The city anticipates the project being finished by the summer of 2023.

El Dorado duck pond project could finally move forward with City Council approval Tuesday

El Dorado Park duck pond could close for up to a year for renovations

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