Standing on the edge of an empty pond near a dead end road in Strawberry, District One Supervisor Ron Christensen dedicated the Strawberry Pond as a completed project for the betterment of Strawberry.
Christensen -- flanked by his fellow Supervisors, county engineers and Pine-Strawberry Improvement Association officers -- spoke to more than two dozen residents who turned out on a cold, windy morning last Thursday to witness the project's completion.
Gila County purchased the two-acre property on the north side of Fossil Creek Road off Dan's Highway for $40,000 in 1997. The improvement association then spent more than $25,000 to develop the pond.
The two-acre pond can hold more than 20 million gallons of water. The county is counting on rain and snowfall to fill the reservoir.
Once the pond is full, the water will flow down its natural course to Strawberry Creek along Fossil Creek Road.
No fishing, swimming or boating will be allowed in the pond, which will be used to store water for fire fighting purposes, Christensen said. The pond is ideal, however, for attracting wildlife and providing residents with a scenic place to walk and recreate.
"Anytime you increase your water storage, you increase your ability to get a high ISO rating,"
Pine-Strawberry Fire Marshal John Varljen said. Pine and Strawberry are overdue for an Insurance Services Organizations (ISO) rating, Varljen said. It's been more than 10 years since the area has been rated. The higher a neighborhood's ISO rating, the lower fire insurance rates can be.
"The biggest thing is having water available to (fight) a fire," Varljen said.
A standpipe that will allow water tenders to tap into a pipe near Fossil Creek Road and fill up with water from the pond was a central feature of the pond project, Varljen said. The Pine-Strawberry Improvement Association and the county are now considering building a similar project in Pine, Christensen said.