Is there any update to the work on the Expo Ponds?

Is there any update to the work on the Expo Ponds?

William O.

Email submission

The Disabilities Recreation Project has been busy installing some of the infrastructure needed before the all-volunteer crew can start building the pathways, fishing pier and buildings envisioned for the two ponds off Penninger Road near the Jackson County Expo Park.

The crews are about 18 months into the ambitious five-year project meant to turn the ponds into a fishing haven accessible for wheelchaired anglers and others.

The sewer lines are in and crews are waiting for a Jackson County permit to install the water lines, which are already bought and paid for, says Richard Anderson, the group's leader. Once the permit is signed, the water lines can be done this month before the rains leave the site muddy and unworkable until spring.

"Then all the underground will be done," Anderson says.

The plan next year is to begin building the paths and parking lot, Anderson says.

"Next spring you'll start seeing things happen," Anderson says.

When completed, the ponds will sport paths friendly to wheelchairs and walkers zig-zagging between picnic tables, fishing platforms, open-air pavilions, restrooms and a 120-foot pier where even the most disabled person with a taste for angling can fish.

The work would be the equivalent of $3.5 million in amenities, with materials paid for via donations and fundraisers without taking any government money. The work parties typically are on Saturdays.

"It's all on a volunteer basis," Anderson says. "Most of us work."

The DRP was formed in 2002 as a venue for improving fishing access for anglers in wheelchairs and others, says Anderson, who has a nephew and two friends who are disabled but like to fish.

The group first built the fishing jetty adjacent to the Howard Prairie Resort at Howard Prairie Lake, using donated items and help from construction workers to turn a shoestring budget into a jetty that would have cost $300,000 had it been built under contract.

The group then built a similar but smaller access structure at Emigrant Lake near the Jackson County boat ramps.

In all, they have done seven projects in Jackson County, parlaying donations and Saturday work parties into finished projects that would cost far more if done conventionally.

The group has been focusing on the Expo since 2003, collecting the various permits and using donations from 13 different engineers to put together plans for the project.

For more information on them, visit www.drpinc.org.

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