Pershing resident complains about retention pond

ALEM – Pershing Street resident Jim Bonfert asked the Parks Committee of City Council to do something about the retention pond at Centennial Park, which he blames for standing water at the park and flooding on Union and Washington avenues.

Bonfert spoke out during a meeting of the committee Wednesday night in council chambers at city hall.

Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey called the meeting to give an update on park activities and to give citizens the opportunity to talk about the parks system.

According to Bonfert, who lives near the park, the retention pond was installed six years ago as a means to solve flooding on Third Street and Brooklyn Avenue and give the water a place to go. He said that was a wrong decision.

“All they did was shove the problem over to the park,” he said.

Bonfert said it’s created a bad situation with standing water and mosquitoes and he wants to see something done. He said he tried to talk to the engineer on the project and the city service director at the time when he saw the drawings for the plans, telling them it wasn’t right.

He said they should have run drain pipes north to Bentley Drive and moved the water east to a ravine.

Dickey said she would pass the information on to city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst.

Prior to Bonfert’s comments, she talked about the activities at the parks last year and a personnel change with Dolores Rogucki retiring and Shane Franks recently hired to serve as recreation supervisor, wishing him good luck.

She also talked about upcoming programs for this year, including plans for another plant exchange in the spring and a scrabble bike run set for Sept. 22 for the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation. The event is being organized by Kim and Mike Hoffman of Salem, whose 7-year-old daughter Olivia suffers from a rare form of the disease.

“I hope everyone will come out and support the cause,” she said.

Councilman Clyde Brown, another member of the committee, complimented Parks Director Steve Faber on running a smooth operation.

“Everything’s going the way it should,” he said.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at