Plans for improvements to Martin Luther King Jr. Park will not include stocking its historic wading pond with fish.
Instead, the $1.4 million allocated for the proposed fishing pond will be shifted to the construction of a spray pool with a reflective fountain. The park will feature the spray pool with a reflective fountain until enough funds can be raised to restore the wading pool, Masten Council Member Antoine M. Thompson said Monday.
"After speaking with hundreds of community leaders and residents, we are responding to their request to improve MLK Park, but exclude the fishing pond concept," Thompson said in a statement. He said that he and Mayor Anthony M. Masiello reached the decision after hearing from the community.
"Many of the residents are appreciative of the hard work former Council Member Byron Brown did in allocating over $2 million for park improvements, and hopefully, by the end of the spring, the wading pool situation should be resolved," Thompson said.
He said he met with residents in a series of community meetings at which the residents expressed opposition to turning the wading pool into a fish pond.
"Most people are open for anything beyond the fish pond," Thompson said. "No one was really passionate about the fish pond. It doesn't seem right to invest resources into something that people don't want."
He said residents did express interest in having a spray pool and a reflective fountain on an interim basis while money is raised for restoring the turn-of-the-century wading pool, which could cost up $8 million, excluding operational costs.
The Coalition to Save Martin Luther King Jr. Park, an organization of Masten District residents formed last September with the goal of preserving the wading pool, adamantly opposed the proposed fish pond, but is in favor of the new proposal.
"The first part of our battle is over," said Richard C. Cummings, chairman of the organization. "Now, we are going to focus on getting the wading pool restored. We are willing to help, plan and organize, so we can get this over with."
Samuel A. Herbert, co-chairman, Monday said residents felt the fishing pond proposal "was being shoved down our throats" and the group has found that Thompson and the mayor "have been sensitive to our needs."
Thompson said two community meetings will be held to discuss the plan. If the community is in favor, Thompson said, the spray pool with a reflective fountain should be installed by the summer.