Bioretention Pond

Has Its Good Points

Re, "Pond Seen as Risk for Students," (Loudoun Extra, Aug. 5), I find it interesting that the county might relent to pressure from Ashburn parents regarding the bioretention pond designed for Belmont Station Elementary.

At Forest Grove Elementary in Sterling, we have two such ponds, both in front of the school. We also have a swale behind our school. When I first saw our site plans more than two years ago, I was among those who voiced the same safety and aesthetic concerns about the ponds to the same county officials. However, the only solution offered to us was a fence, not a re-engineered design.

Living in an area of the county starved for the new and improved facilities enjoyed as their birthright by new developments in Ashburn and elsewhere, we compromised. While fencing was a very unpopular choice in our neighborhood, we decided it answered the safety concerns and allowed officials to focus on more important issues regarding our school.

Two years later, the fenced ponds are now just another part of our landscaping. They do their job of collecting and filtering rainwater. The black fencing blends in. Safety has not been an issue.

Our children are delighted to see and hear the many frogs (including a very loud bullfrog) that have taken up residence. My particular joy, in this ever-more- urbanized county, is to hear the distinctive call of a mated pair of red-winged blackbirds that have moved in. Snapping turtles and snakes have not come to prey upon our children.

Considering what we sacrifice in terms of trees and other natural ground cover to build new schools (in our case, nearly 16 acres of mature hardwoods in the middle of our neighborhood), giving back a little "bioretention" space seems a small price to pay for a comfortable new school.

Diane Shafer