Caution: ice not always as strong as it looks
SIDNEY -- The pond at Legion Park may look wintery and solid, but looks can be deceiving.
Sidney's Parks and Cemetery Superintendent Tom Von Seggern advises not to assume the pond is safe, especially with recent warm weather. Concerns include changes in the weather and what that does to the ice on the pond.
"Inconsistent ice thickness due to the aeration and the fountain throughout the pond here. We've had a wintry blast of weather the last few weeks, so the pond looks froze over from shore to shore, but it's very inconsistent. You need six to seven inches of ice to be safe out on there, and we just don't have that on our little pond," he said.
Von Seggern said ice fishing and ice skating are not allowed on Legion Park Pond. He said snow-covered ice is dangerous because it covers weak spots in the ice. The City of Sidney encourages everyone to stay off of the pond through the winter months. The pond is about 16 feet deep in the middle near the fountain. The banks of the shore are steep; just a few feet from shore and a person can be in several feet of water if the ice breaks.
Legion Pond is aerated to maintain the fish population. Aeration oxygenates the water by forcing air through a hose to a vented grate. The air bubbles rise and mix with water. The bubble motion mixes the warmer bottom water with the cold ice-covered water at the top of the pond, keeping the ice from developing a consistent thickness.
Residents are advised to keep pets on a leash when near the pond. If a pet does fall through the ice, immediately call 911; don't try to save it, Von Seggern says.