Project News

January 4, 2018 - The pond at the newly named Veterans Park is scheduled to be finished in summer 2018, after crews rebuild the walls of the pond and create a safety shelf just below the surface of the water. The need for the additional work was not originally scheduled as part of the project and was not apparent until the sidewalk around the pond was removed, exposing erosion behind the pond wall.

This additional work necessitates a contract change to the $2.1 million renovation project and the details are currently being worked on. The City Council, on September 5, 2017, approved a contract amendment for the designer to complete final design for the reconstruction of the pond wall.

On November 21, 2017, the Council approved the design for a monument at the park to honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. Veterans Park, formerly known as Village Pond Park, will have five monuments around a majestic tree. The monuments honor the Coast Guard, Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Each etched concrete monument will have a bronze seal of the branch of the service it represents, topped with a mosaic folded American flag.

A construction contract for the monument area has not been approved, so an overall project deadline has not been set.

November 16, 2017 - The resident Design Committee for Veterans Park has worked to develop potential concepts for a monument to honor the men and women who have served our country. On Tuesday, November 21, City Council will review the Conceptual Design for a Veterans monument at the park. The artwork is available for viewing below.

July 12, 2017 - The City has installed a camera at Village Pond Park to capture live footage of the construction activities taking place at the park. Check out the live camera footage above to see the process of construction at the park.

Week of July 3, 2017 -  United Engineering completed clearing activity and began grading for new sidewalks. Draining of the pond has also commenced with water being pumped into the El Toro Water District sewer system between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. AquaBio has been notified by the contractor about the draining and will monitor lake levels and install temporary aeration equipment, as needed, to ensure safe collection of fish and turtles in the lake. 

Draining operations are anticipated to take approximately one month to complete. 

June 08, 2017 - United Engineering started draining the pond and began grading operations at Village Pond Park.  AquaBio, the City's wildlife consultant, will continue to be on-site for the collection and care for any fish and turtles found within the pond during the draining process.

In addition, United Engineering received approval of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and is currently procuring materials that have long delivery schedules, such as the bridge. The contractor is on schedule to complete work (weather permitting) and reopen the park by early 2018.

April 14, 2017 -  Starting the week of April 17, United Engineering will begin mobilizing their equipment on site to prepare for drainage of the pond. As the pond is slowly drained, turtles and fish will be carefully captured and processed by AquaBio biologists.
April 10, 2017 - Once United Engineering begins the draining process the week of April 17, AquaBio will continue to oversee the removal and relocation of the fish and turtles. AquaBio will capture, identify, and sort by size every turtle that is collected. Ornamental fish (e.g. koi and goldfish) will be adopted out to new homes. AquaBio will be receiving instructions from Fish and Wildlife throughout the project to handle the game fish (e.g. bluegill, sunfish, small mouth bass) to ensure the best management practices are followed. 
April 9, 2017-We are pleased to report that AquaBio has found housing for all the ducks and geese who will be placed in their forever homes by the end of the month while the turtles will be relocated to the Orange County Turtle and Tortoise Club. Domestic game fish will be housed onsite and kept in aerated tanks until AquaBio receives final instructions from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
April 2, 2017 - Until construction begins at a later date April, AquaBio personnel will continue to visit the park regularly to feed the animals. They have also created “feeding stations” to ensure that the animals have access to healthy food in between visits. Once construction begins, the fish, waterfowl and turtles will be sorted, evaluated and relocated in accordance with guidelines established by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Specifically, all waterfowl will be safely transported to the Pacific Waterfowl Rescue, a non-profit organization focused on rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming domestic ducks and geese. Turtles will be relocated to the Orange County Turtle and Tortoise Club. AquaBio is still awaiting specific instructions from CDFW related to the relocation of fish.  
Mid-March - A secondary fence was installed and will be used to corral the birds to simplify relocation. While the feeding and habitation have been occurring, AquaBio has been in contact with various non-profits who will be aiding in the re-adoption of these animals.Pacific Waterfowl Rescue has agreed to take on the domestic birds and work on finding them forever homes. 

A picture of the facilities with views of open space where the birds can roam free as well as a couple of their covered shelters for the birds to sleep at night (pictured right).

Pacific Waterfowl Rescue

Pacific Waterfowl Rescue
March 13, 2017 - Village Pond Park is closed to the public. Fencing around the perimeter of the park was installed. AquaBio and a Lake Forest resident volunteer regularly visit the park to feed the animals to ensure a consistent and proper diet. This also served the purpose of familiarizing the birds with AquaBio staff to facilitate the collection and transport of the animals. 

March 7, 2017 - City Council approved a $2.1 million construction contract to United Engineering & Construction to complete the Village Pond Park Improvement project. With the approval of the contract, the site will be fenced off on March 13, at which time the park will be closed to the public. Shortly thereafter, construction will begin. The construction is expected to take nine months with re-opening of the park in early 2018.  An article featured in the Orange County Register detailed some of the pending improvements. 
February 7, 2017 - Recent rain events have caused the pond to overflow at Village Pond Park. Since Federal and State water quality laws prohibit the pond water from being discharged into the City’s storm drain system, the City will continue to monitor the water level while it subsides naturally in the coming weeks. In addition, signs are posted throughout the park advising the public that the sidewalk is temporarily closed. 
The City anticipates awarding a contract to the most qualified and competitive firm in March, at which time, the selected contractor will coordinate closure of the park and begin pumping water into the sanitary sewer for treatment by the El Toro Water District. 
The City has hired Aquabio Environmental Technologies (“Aquabio”) for wildlife relocation services. The firm has extensive experience in similar projects, and a fully-trained, licensed, and certified staff to manage sensitive wildlife relocation efforts. Aquabio is currently working with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”) to obtain a permit to relocate wildlife. Prior to permit issuance, CDFW has required Aquabio to “seine” the lake in order to gather information regarding the number and types of aquatic species present in the lake. The process of seining uses large nets to draw in and inventory a sample of aquatic species in the lake. Based on this sampling, CDFW will provide specific instructions regarding the relocation of each species that will become the basis for a permit to relocate the wildlife. According to Aquabio, conditions around the pond must be dry for approximately one week before seining can occur. Aquabio expects to seine the lake within the next few weeks, weather permitting.