Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Fenced In (Guest Post by Ben Petracco)
On a casual drive through Fort Thomas on any given day you see people walking and running through town; exercising up and down the streets of the city, enjoying the outdoors and getting their necessary cardio. Up until 2001, there was a popular exercise spot where one could park their car, enjoy the fresh air and walk as many laps as their cross trainers could carry them. This exercise location has all but been forgotten, it had a fence put up around it and the exercise crowd has been asked to disperse. I am referring to the Fort Thomas reservoir and its restricted track that is no longer accessible to the residents of Fort Thomas.
I was interested in why the sudden restriction was placed on the reservoir. I contacted the Vice President of Engineering, Water Quality and Production with the Water Company, Mr. Richard Harrison, and asked him general questions about the fence project and the future of the Fort Thomas Reservoir.
The fence was erected in late 2001 early 2002, but I had never heard a clear explanation as to why. What was the over all catalyst to put up a perimeter fence?
Mr. Harrison said, “The events of September 11th prompted a federally mandated vulnerability assessment to all reservoirs, tanks and public water facilities in the area. The fence was a required increase in security to ensure that anyone inside the reservoir area in fact had access and was supposed to be there.”
I was completely unaware that the terrorist attacks had a subtle effect right in our backyard, but the attacks were the main reason for the increased security around the water company facilities.
I asked Harrison what the total cost was to put up the fence around the reservoir and he advised that it cost approximately $330,000. There is a lot of fencing around both of the reservoirs that range from route 27 to South Fort Thomas Avenue and everything in between.
At one time, I was an avid runner and walker of the track so I asked Harrison if there is any plan to open the reservoir to the public again. He advised that at this time there is no plan to open the track back up to the public. The impending restriction from the track is understandable considering the work and the cost that went in to protecting the area.
The fence may be viewed as a negative addition to the reservoir by some, but it is a necessary step in protecting our water supply. I inquired with Harrison, “What are some of the benefits to now having the fence up and placing a strict ‘no trespassing’ law on the reservoir?” He explained, “The main benefits of the fence are to know that the reservoir is secure at all times. Now anyone that is seen on the grounds is employed by the water company or they are permitted to be beyond the fence line; before the fence you never could be sure if the individuals on the grounds were employees or trespassers.”
After the mandated vulnerability assessment, the fence was viewed as a necessity to secure our water supply and ensure our safety. You may think “this is Fort Thomas, no terrorist-related act would ever happen here,” but being safe is much better than being sorry. The exercise enthusiasts will find streets and sidewalks elsewhere to get their hearts pumping, but after that workout, they’ll find extra solace in knowing that the ice cold glass of water is safe to drink.
What are your thoughts on the reservoir and the addition of the fence? Leave your comments here: