Cheeseman ponds remain empty, renovations plannned2 min read

Serena Scaglione, Staff writer

A long bidding process and a project redesign have left the ponds at the Cheeseman Environmental Study Area drained for a year and a half.

The renovation of the marsh and riparian ponds in the CESA are funded by Measure C, a $490.8 million bond approved in 2006 to improve facilities at the De Anza College and Foothill College campuses.

Even with the funds for the CESA project available, renovation to expand and deepen both ponds cannot begin until a construction company wins the bid for the project.

Donna Jones-Dulin, associate vice president of finance and college operations, said the project has gone out to bid twice already, but both bids came in over budget.

A project redesign must be completed before the project can go out to bid again.

The delay in construction has prevented the CESA from being a thriving natural habitat and educational resource for students and members of the community.

CESA coordinator Diana Martinez said the ponds do more than just add to the scenery; they serve as a precious water source to the area’s plant and animal life.

The ponds are also used by De Anza science classes and other local colleges for invertebrate studies, as well as testing oxygen and temperature levels in the water.

“It’s more than an outdoor arboretum,” said Martinez. “We consider it an extension of our classroom and environmental studies program.”

When the renovation of the ponds is complete, Martinez said she hopes to see new and returning wildlife such as California-native fish, turtles, frogs and ducks.

“[The wildlife] comes alive when you have that pond going,” she said. “Water is such an important feature of any landscape and is such a valuable resource.”

Martinez said project construction should begin early to mid-spring and anticipates that the CESA will reopen in the fall of 2014.