RIB MOUNTAIN - Bluegill Bay Park is dirty. Full of weeds, algae and dead organic matter, it's not exactly the ideal place for a summertime dip in the water nor the perfect place to cast a line.
By the end of the summer, the Rotary Club of Wausau hopes to turn that all around.
Bluegill Bay Park will be getting a makeover to rid its pond of the weeds, algae and sediment that make it a difficult place to spend time.
The Rotary Club led a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday afternoon to begin the process.
"This project started two and a half years ago, to commemorate 100 years of Rotary club," Rotary club member Mike Beck said.
The idea came about because of a need for a local spot to easily teach children how to fish, according to Rotary club members, but in order to do that, the waters needed to be cleared.
"The focus is on the availability of clean water," Beck said during the ceremony. "Which is a priority of the club locally and worldwide."
The dredging project will clear 1.1 acres of pond, removing 11,100 cubic yards of sediment.. The sediment will then be taken from the park and spread. The project will cost about $400,000. The money was raised through donations from local organizations and the county environmental impact fund, according to Marathon County administrator Brad Karger.
"Currently there are two to three feet of water and two to three feet of weeds" in the pond, said Peter Knotek, the assistant director of the Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Departmentduring the ceremony. He noted that this didn't make an adequate place for fishing.
Karger hopes the project will be a kind of "canary in a mine shaft" warning to people in the community about the dangers of runoff to local habitats.
"It's about (agriculture) runoff coming down Rib River," Karger said. "We want to support practices that will preserve Lake Wausau."
Karger noted that although Lake Wausau may not be as affected by the runoff yet because of its size, Bluegill Bay pond is a good indication of what can happen if changes aren't made.
A1 Excavating, the leaders of the dredging at Bluegill Bay Park, were on site to take the first scoop of sediment from the shore. The project is expected to last for 45 days, with the completion ceremony set for July 31, according to Knotek.
Another part of the project will also include creating an art walk within the park, said Jean Tehan, the president of the Rotary Club of Wausau. The art will be made by children in the community, in partnership with the Center for Visual Arts.
Tehan, who has been on the steering committee for the project since the beginning of the project, is overjoyed to see the improvements to the park taking place.
"We wanted to do something special that would be enjoyed for years to come," she said. "By kids of all ages."