FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — Crews from the Fort Drum Directorate of Public Works are working to preserve history at the Leray Mansion District.
On July 5, a Public Works Road and Grounds crew began repairing a damaged dam at the heart-shaped pond in the Historic District.
According to Public Works Project Supervisor Jeff Semrau, crewmembers were able to lower water levels on the pond so the dam could be easily repaired. The team was unable to drain the entire pond because it would create an ecological disturbance.
“So we just put a drainage pipe in to divert the water around the dam,” Semrau said in a press release. “Then we will build a cofferdam – basically a wall of plastic sandbags – to keep the area where they are working dry. We made sure everything was in compliance and with little impact to the environment as we can.”
Fort Drum Public Affairs confirmed that carpenters and masons will have cut away damaged materials from the dam, and rebuilt and poured new concrete into the structure by the second week of July.
“The dam has been failing for years now, and the project has been talked about for a number of years,” Semrau added. “They’ve repaired one side of it before, and, of course, it’s a high visibility area so you really don’t want to disturb things if you don’t have to. I guess the time has come to get this fully repaired.”
A team of archeologists from Fort Drum’s Cultural Resources and Environmental Division specialists also provided guidance at the site.
“Since there are potential artifacts all through those deposits from the original construction, it’s required that our archaeologists are there while the earth is being moved around,” she said. “Any time there is ground disturbance in the district, we try to have at least one archaeologist present.”
The pond is a contributing property to the historic landscape in the LeRay Mansion District, which is on the National Register Listed Historic District.
“That’s why we decided it was important for us to try and save the dam,” Fort Drum Cultural Resources Program Manager Dr. Rush said. “The loss of the dam would also mean the loss of the beautiful reflecting pond.”