A very large part of the Town Center Project is the neighborhood pond where citizens and their families can come to enjoy an evening fishing for bass, catfish, sunfish, seasonal trout and other varying species of fish. The pond was a part of the property when the city made the purchase of the land and was immediately recognized for it's potential in giving citizens within Brown County another place to be outdoors. It has been recognized by Texas Parks and Wildlife that fisheries in this region of the state are scattered and limited so community fishing ponds are necessary for offering diverse, convenient fishing experiences for families, especially youth, and they are also important for recruiting, reactivating and retaining anglers that support conservation and sales of fishing licenses.
"It is such a thrill to work on a project like this. We have recognized the need for more fisheries and recreational activities for families within our area. So to be able to play a role in helping fix that problem, is a great honor." said City Administrator Tony Aaron.
So the pond was already on the property, however it was far from being adequate "fishin' hole." According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, reservoirs like the Town Center Pond are man-made structures that require maintenance to address problems associated with reservoir aging, particularly sedimentation that results in losses of structural fish habitat and vegetation as well as detrimental changes to water quality. Over the years, the Town Center Pond has experienced excessive sedimentation and nutrient-loading, thus there has been substantial loss of storage capacity as well as loss and degradation of fish habitat.
"The pond definitely needs some maintenance and more than that, it needs a full dredging. There are plans to dig the pond several feet deeper, to add fish habitats, to increase the water quality and potentially even add a fountain in the middle." said Tony Aaron.
Below is an image that shows the desired shape of the pond and what you can expect
PHASES OF THIS PROJECT
Phase I will include the draining of the pond, followed by the dredging of the pond that will reshape the pond as well as a canal connecting the pond to a second retention basin. The pond is expected to be dredged to a depth of 14-17 feet maximum depth and will have a mean depth of 6-8 feet. The final waterbody is anticipated to have a surface area of about 5 acres.
Phase II, will include a variety of erosion control measures will be used to armor shoreline in the pond and canal and prevent erosion and sedimentation. Specifically, a living shoreline approach involving the installation of rocky substrate, coir logs, geotextile matting, and native plants will be used to armor most of the existing shoreline and to create littoral habitat for fish in the pond.
Phase III of this overall project is to enhance fishing access with two fishing piers supplied with lighting, seating, and American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant accessibility as well as develop static educational outreach promoting fish and wildlife conservation once the pond renovation efforts have been completed.
Below is a picture of the piers that will be found on the pond:
City of Early’s proposal entitled “City of Early Town Center Park Fishing Pier Project” in response to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Habitat and Angler Access Program solicitation was favorably reviewed by a panel of fisheries biologists and other internal subject matter experts who serve on the program’s Proposal Scoring Committee. The following message was delivered to the City, "I am pleased to inform you that your proposal was recommended to receive funding of $50,000, contingent upon completion of an updated scope of work and execution of an interagency cooperation contract between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and your organization."
"We are very grateful to Texas Parks and Wildlife for not only playing a large role in the process of the Town Center pond but also for granting us $50,000 to be used for the two fishing piers that will help to attract more people to fish in this pond." - said Tony Aaron.
- August – September 2021: Phase I begins. Dewatering and fish relocation efforts will be conducted.
- October 2021 – May 2022: Pond and drainage basin dredging, reshaping, and contouring will be completed.
- June 2022 – July 2022: Pond lining assessment and repairs (if necessary) will be finished; End of Phase I.
- August 2022 – February 2023: Phase II begins. Structural erosion control measures and artificial habitat installation will be completed. City of Early may also have fishing piers installed during this time.
- March 2023 – June 2023: Aeration system will be installed; pond will be filled; native vegetation plantings will be accomplished.
- June 2023 – July 2023: TPWD and City of Early will stock bluegill, fathead minnows, largemouth bass, and channel catfish.
- August 2023: Anticipated project completion