PEABODY — It’s not often that politicians get down in the muck and the mire and come out smiling.
But when it’s to take a closer look at Crystal Lake at the tail end of a dredging project decades in the making, that’s a different story.
Friday morning, Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. led a quick tour of the lake, which has had over 45,000 cubic yards of sediment removed over the past six months. Within the coming weeks, the lake will be refilled, making way for a revitalized recreation area in West Peabody.
“How many times do you get to walk around the bottom of a lake before it fills up?” Bettencourt asked. “There’s another couple weeks of work (with the lake) and they they are going to start on the recreational area with the grading.”
Plans for the recreational area include gazebos and two fishing docks on the side of Crystal Lake near the recreational path. While the grading and landscaping will be done this fall, Bettencourt said the work on the docks and gazebos will likely be completed next spring.
Additional plans to revitalize the area include stocking the lake with fish and building a fountain in the center of it.
For decades, city officials have been laying the groundwork to make Crystal Lake a vibrant recreation area. Late last year, the city council approved a $2 million loan request to help pay for the dredging. The total project cost came in at close to $4 million.
Crystal Lake is about eight feet deep at its deepest point, according to Daniel Buttrick, the project engineer from Tighe and Bond. He said the water level should be close to normal by the end of the fall.
“Over the next couple of weeks, the project will be finishing up and the uplands areas will be restored,” said Buttrick. “Once the pumps are off, it might be a little slow at first, but a couple of rainstorms in the fall, it will be right back up to where it was and you’ll be looking at a full pond.”
Even as the work crews and trucks move in and out of the area around Crystal Lake, it hasn’t slowed down the wildlife from checking out the scene. Friday morning, at least one heron could be spotted in the shallow water in the center of the eight-acre lake. The area has also remained a bountiful habitat for turtles. Foxes, deer, eagles, and hawks have also been spotted near Crystal Lake in the past few months.