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Zoo pond renovation nearing completion

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The city will be wrapping up much of the work on the zoo pond renovation by the end of the month but has not yet announced how or when it will open to the public.

City Manager Joe Neeb gave an update on the pond work in his report at the end of a six-hour meeting of the Roswell City Council at about 12:30 a.m. Friday.

He said he and Special Services Director Jim Burress will give a complete report of the work on the pond and its expenses in the future, likely at October’s city council meeting.

The pond has been closed to the public for almost two years as the city chose to be its own general contractor for the cleaning and renovation, Neeb said.

“The intent of that was to save money in order to do this work,” he said. “The challenge was we gave up time for it.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic further slowed the work, as Neeb ordered a freeze on all spending in March 2020 through July of that year.

The renovation work will be complete by the end of this month, Neeb said. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish was at the pond Thursday with a boat to assist with the installation of bubblers that will help keep the water circulating.

“My understanding is the waterfall is almost fully repaired and ready to go,” Neeb said.

A city water line was extended to the pond, as the shallow well system has failed.

“We did move in water from the city onto the site for fire protection. We’ll come back later and fix the wells because it’s less expensive to irrigate,” Neeb said.

The city administration is considering how best to reopen the pond, working with John Wright, director of the Spring River Zoo and the zoo staff.

“As the pond is part of the zoo, we’re trying to work within that. We are trying to control the number of free days that the pond is available,” Neeb said.

Limiting the free days will help prevent overfishing, Neeb said.

“We’re also talking about implementing our own equipment and tackle for fishing as well, use of cane poles, so we’re not going to have anybody out there with deep sea fishing stuff,” he said.

“The idea was to bring it back to the educational process of what it was supposed to be and to allow the fish to continue to grow and not be fished out,” he said.

While much of the work will be completed by the end of September, Neeb said amenities such as picnic tables, shelters, benches and trees will still need to be placed. The city will offer opportunities for sponsorships or memorials for those items.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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