GOSHEN — The 80-acre pond that marks the old Fidler gravel quarry may become the centerpiece of the city’s newest land largest park by May — if organizers can raise $500,000.
The money will go to purchase the land from Aggregate Industries.
Jim Wellington, a member of the park board, spearheads the effort to make the old pond into a park he’s calling Fidler’s Pond. It sits on Lincolnway East between Monroe Street and College Avenue, directly across the railroad tracks from the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds.
The Goshen Park Board decided a few weeks ago to accept the pond as a city park, said Sheri Howland, head of the city park department. They’ll take the pond, assuming donations come to pay the $600,000 in total costs for the 100-acre site. There’s already more than $100,000 donated toward the purchase, according to Wellington.
The good news is that the city will soon get word on a few grants, and those could match donations to the site. “As soon as we get the word on those, we’ll really start asking for some money,” Wellington said.
The pond has a perfect launching spot for boats, Wellington said. “This is big enough to have sailboat races, a regatta,” he said.
While boating won’t a draw in the cold months, Wellington said the site is suited for use all year. “There’s already a 1.5 mile trail around it,” he said, and it’s great for cycling, running and walking.
Wellington said the rumors about the pond are sometimes humorous, but mostly untrue.
Sheri Howland, superintendent of the park department, said an environmental assessment’s already been done on the site.
Wellington said that assessment eliminates some of the rumors of past dumping in the pond. The fact that divers with the fire department have practiced in the pond also showed that there’s no giant truck at the bottom or watery grave for appliances, according to Wellington.
The whole idea of the park is a great one for the city, he said. “It’s incredibly exciting. People know 1,000 years from now it’ll be a Goshen City park.”
He said the location along the railroad could allow the city to easily link Fidler’s Pond to the city’s trail system in the future.
Anyone wishing to make a tax-deductible donation for the purchase of the park can contact Wellington or the city park department.