By Steve Williams
Officially, it’s the Historic Fountain City Lake. Most of us, however, know it simply as The Duck Pond.
But for over a year now, you would be more accurate to call it The Yuck Pond. It’s become an eyesore. Slimy green algae covers about 80 percent of it.
No one is to blame. The old landmark just sprung some leaks. It’s fixable and the good news is repair work will start soon.
My only question/complaint would be why has it taken so long?
But I’m not going to dwell on that. There’s probably a good answer/reason. Let’s move forward.
I’m just pleased work will soon begin to turn The Yuck pond back into The Duck Pond.
Many others will be happy, too, including our feathered friends who make this their home or a stopover on their way South.
Translation: “Thank you.”
Before I made the first of two trips to the Yuck Pond last week, to get an up-close look, I stopped at the nearby Duck Pond Antiques and Woodworking Shop, which is located in what used to be The Knoxville Focus office, behind the muffler shop.
Barry Fernandez, a former high school teacher and coach at Halls, Oak Ridge and Central among other things (that’s a story for another day), is the owner of the shop, which he opened 17 months ago. The name he chose for his business should tell you what he thinks of The Duck Pond as a landmark.
“When you generally give directions in and around Fountain City, you say, ‘Well, I’m a block or two blocks from the Duck Pond. Do you know where the Duck Pond is? Yes.’
“Nobody knows where the Exxon station is, even though it’s right across the street from the Duck Pond. Some people get lost going to Litton’s. But you don’t get lost going to the Duck Pond.
“I would love to see the Duck Pond back like it was when we moved here 33 years ago. I think it’s an asset to all of Knox County and Knoxville.”
Probably more than anything, people remember The Duck Pond and the Park as a place where they spent quality time with their children when they were young. My memories: The swings and slides. Feeding the ducks. Having a picnic. Checking out a book when the library was still at the Park.
There also have been times when I’ve driven by the Duck Pond and seen a young boy fishing. I wonder just how many boys have learned to fish there, to put a worm on a hook, to cast a float into the water, with their dad or uncle or papaw at their side?
“The thing I liked when we came here were the weekend nights when the radio-controlled boats would be in the Lake going around,” recalled Fernandez. “They even had battleships and submarines. That was fun to see.
“I’ve been told one of the submarines is still on the bottom of the Lake. It never came back up. We’ll see.
“Do they still do this? No, you can’t get a boat through all that algae,” Fernandez laughed.
The boats will be back someday.
I sense something good, in time, is going to come from the Yuck Pond. It’s provided a good example of that old saying – you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Fountain City and the City of Knoxville are working together to bring back The Duck Pond like it was and even better. We hear that many organizations and businesses and citizens have already expressed a desire to assist the Lions Club with maintaining the Park and Lake, because it belongs to all of us.
Let’s not forget, Fountain City Lake was built shaped like a heart. This broken heart will be strong again. It just needs some love and attention.