Albert Leas pond with several names

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 29, 2006

By Ed Shannon, staff writer

Special emphasis on a small pond near the entrance to Albert Lea High School came with the recent creation of a three-tier amphitheater named &8220;Inspiration and Ponder Point.&8221;

What the class of 1956 intends to be a lasting legacy for the Albert Lea Area Schools will serve as an outdoor classroom and as a place of tranquility and for mediation overlooking a pond of water.

This particular pond was created about 1976 on the north side of East Hammer Road. It was intended to be one of three small bodies of water and part of a conservation project for the drainage system on the large block between Hammer Road and Hershey Street. What provided the impetus for the project came when this property was acquired by School District 241.

Don Flatness, district manager of the Freeborn County Soil and Water Conservation District, has a plan for this particular pond which shows its surface size as 400 feet by 250 feet with a somewhat triangular shape. He did a calculation and said the pond is less than two acres in size. It has a depth which tapers down to about 10 feet, except for an excavated 60 foot by 100 foot hole in the center with a depth of 12 feet. Flatness feels these depths have been somewhat altered during the years by siltation.

Water for this pond comes form three places. One is a small stream from the north. The second is a tile based on the parking lot for Hammer Field and the area now used for soccer games. A third source is a storm sewer from the west based on Hammer

Road.

The plan also shows what&8217;s known as a pipe drop structure for drainage. An outlet for this pond is based on a 36 inch

pipe with a trash guard which goes down five feet to a 24 inch by 62 foot pipe which runs under Hammer Road. On the south side of Hammer Road water from this pond goes further south to the creek which runs from Goose Lake to Fountain Lake.

There may be an impression that Hammer Road serves as the dam for this pond. However, the plan in Flatness&8217; files shows there&8217;s an earthen berm next to Hammer Road. This berm dam and the outlet pipe for the pond are barely visible because of the heavy growth of vegetation.

The original name shown on this 1974 plan is &8220;ALTEC School Fish Pond.&8221; (ALTEC is an abbreviation for Albert Lea Technical Education Center, now known as Riverland Community College.)

Another plan for the large block bordered by Hammer Road, Hershey Street, North Bridge and Y.H. Hanson Avenues furnished by Lowell Ross shows a different name for this aquatic part of the landscape. It&8217;s Fish Pond.

Ross has a document which shows that in 1976 the cost to create this pond was estimated to be $2,989.

A good portion of the amount may have come from a state grant.

One of the names used for this place in the past has been East Pond. This name may have been based on its location on East Hammer Road. Yet, the name of Hammer Pond seems to have not been considered for this sometimes overlooked watermark.

What could be a very appropriate name is Tiger Pond, especially since 2000 when

Albert Lea High School was relocated to the nearby site on Tiger Lane. Another logical name could be School District 241 Pond.

Other more recent name possibilities are Inspiration Pond, Ponder Pond, and Ponder Point Pond. These three names could be easily based on the recent creation of the three-tier outdoor amphitheater overlooking this pond.

Bruce Olson, director of Facilities and Transportation for Albert Lea Area Schools, confirms that this pond doesn&8217;t have an official name. What he calls a retaining pond for water also doesn&8217;t seem to have any fish, despite its name on a site plan made 30 years ago.

&8220;Maybe they should have a contest to give the pond a name,&8221; Olson said. And a logical way to finally give this pond a real designation after three decades would be a new sign to confirm this action.

There are the names of 102 teachers and administrators from the 1956 era on a metal plaque at Inspiration and Ponder Point. One of those names is Lowell Ross who taught agriculture at Albert Lea High School for 33 years and retired in 1983.

&8220;Thanks for a lot of work by the Class of &8216;56 and the Soil and Water Conservation District (for the pond),&8221; was his comment. And with this commentary he added still another name for this small body of water, District 241 Pond.