Construction on the El Dorado Duck Pond is about to begin; here’s what you need to know

Construction crews are expected to start work soon on a long-awaited $9 million renovation of the El Dorado Duck Pond that will improve water quality and repair damaged walkways around it.

The project has been delayed in recent years due to funding issues and birds nesting, but city officials said this week that work on the pond is expected to start in the next few weeks.

Improvements are expected to include new wetlands areas around the pond, a new liner for the pond, and repairs to the pedestrian walkways that are uneven and in some instances falling into the pond.

Part of the project will include improvements to the parking lot that has been damaged by tree roots as well as an ADA-accessible path that will connect the lot to the new pedestrian trail around the pond. Current projections from the city estimate that the project could be complete around November 2023.

Here are some things you should know about the project:

How long will the work take?

A projected timeline shared during a community meeting Wednesday estimates construction could take over a year for just the portion of El Dorado Park located south of Willow Street. While the actual pond itself will be refilled by September 2023, other work like habitat restoration could take months longer.

Fencing around the project will stay up until all of those steps are complete, which could be sometime in late 2023. The fencing will block access to the parking lot at that portion of El Dorado Park meaning that people will have to park on Studebaker Road. Other amenities at the park, like the playground and soccer field, will remain open during construction. Portions of the parking lot will also be resurfaced as part of the duck pond restoration.

What happens to the animals? 

The duck pond obviously has ducks in it, but it also has other wildlife like red-eared slider turtles, fish and other birds. They will all be relocated, some physically, while the birds are expected to be diverted to other areas once the pond is fenced off, according to officials working on the project.

Fish are expected to be removed and put into other bodies of water near the park like the El Dorado Nature Center and other ponds in the northern sections of the park. The red-eared sliders are an invasive species, so the current plan is to remove them from the pond and rehome them through the pet industry, said Lonnie Rodriguez, a biologist who’s working on the project.

Turtles that are not healthy enough to become pets could be sent to a tortoise and turtle sanctuary in Orange County to be rehabilitated, Rodriguez said. While fish will be removed from the pond for construction, there is no plan to reintroduce fish once the project is complete.

Birds that remain near the site will be monitored, project officials said, and if there is any nesting activity, there would be a buffer built around the nests to allow the birds to stay through the construction phase.

How’s the city paying for this? 

The cost of restoring the duck pond has doubled from its original projection of $4.5 million and is now projected to cost $9 million.

Funding for this project is coming from a variety of sources including grants and contributions from the Long Beach Water Department and the city’s Measure A revenue. The Water Department, which will use the pond as a reservoir for recycled water, is contributing $1.1 million.

Measure W, a Los Angeles County tax that creates funding for safe and clean water, is contributing another $2.8 million. Measure A funding for the project has increased over time and is now at $3.2 million, according to city data.

Delayed by nesting season, El Dorado Duck Pond project to resume in September

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