Originally created 09/30/05

Barton's Pond coming back to Aiken



AIKEN - An upcoming restoration project in Hitchcock Woods will stem erosion along the Sand River and revive a historic feature of the city landmark.

"In conjunction with the project, we want to re-establish Barton's Pond in the woods," said Larry Morris, the city public works director.

Aiken has earmarked $3.5 million of its 1-cent capital project sales tax money to fund the project.

The plan includes burying a pipe, which will be at least 10 feet in diameter, from the point of runoff into the woods at South Boundary Avenue for a distance of 7,000 feet to 8,000 feet. The pipe will allow storm water to bypass the Sand River and empty into the Barton's Pond area.

Years of heavy storm water runoff, primarily from downtown streets, have eroded the canyon at the origin of the Sand River, damaged its banks and filled the pond with silt.

Harry Shealy, the chairman of the Hitchcock Foundation's woods management and storm water committees, said consultants recently completed preliminary work for the project.

Contractors have drilled the terrain at the Barton's Pond dam area for soil samples and performed flyovers with radar to obtain detailed land elevation models, he said.

The city and the foundation agreed on a plan about a year ago, Mr. Shealy said.

He said they have worked together for years to try to mitigate the storm water drainage into the 2,200-acre preserve.

"We've never come up with something that we felt was a solution," Mr. Shealy said.

Mr. Morris said construction should get under way next year.

"Our plan work will be complete sometime this spring," he said.

The project also includes rebuilding the dam in the middle of the woods and installing a silt filter to restore the pond.

In the 1890s, Barton's Pond was a favorite fishing and boating spot for Aiken's sporting community.

"We're working on the design to try to get it as close to the historic pond size as we can get it," Mr. Morris said.

He said it will take at least a year to complete the pipe installation. The project is difficult for two reasons, he said.

"No. 1, we don't want to harm the woods any more than we have to with heavy equipment," Mr. Morris said. "And No. 2, every time it rains, you've got to pull your equipment out for several days."

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.