Culler Lake Project-FAQs

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Q: Why is Culler Lake being dredged?
A: There are, per an analysis done by the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies at Hood College, 500 dump trucks worth of silt in the lake. It is being removed because:
1. The bulk of this is sediment and solids that have washed into the lake via the storm drains that empty about 66 acres of upstream neighborhoods. Unless the lake is dredge, the lake will fill in and become a marsh rather than a lake.
2. The sediment is deteriorating the lake environment.

Q: When will work on the New Culler Lake begin?
A: Work began in early February when the pump used to pump Carrol Creek water into Culler Lake was turned off, the drain emptying Culler Lake was opened, and the benches were removed. The pumping out of water from the lake is expected to start by the end of February.

Q: How long will the project take?
A: The contract calls for substantial completion by the end of 2016. The Friends of Baker Park Board has noted that delays may be anticipated because of weather, flooding, undiscovered barriers in the dredging, construction, and allied processes.

Q. Was the community involved in the development of Culler Lake Plans?
A. Yes! In the development of New Culler Lake plans, Friends of Baker Park involved not only organization members and Board but also neighborhood residents and members of the wider community at charrettes, annual meetings, and other “listening” sessions that sought to understand community desires and cautions as they pertained to Culler Lake. Consultation with the Department of Public Works, Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Mayor and Aldermen also took place several times throughout the planning process. The input was incorporated to the fullest extent possible in the planning, the goal being to maintain Culler Lake as a centerpiece of Baker Park.

Q: Who is the General Contractor for the New Culler Lake?
A: Morgan-Keller.

Q: Why is there a fence around Culler Lake? How long will it be there?
A: A construction fence has been erected around Culler Lake to prevent people and animals from wandering into the construction site as the lake is drained, dredged, recontoured, stabilized with native plants, and upgraded with a new retaining wall on the lake’s eastern edge plus removal of the current crumbling central fountain and its replacement with a completely rebuilt water feature of the same design, three gravel wetlands plus walkways over these wetlands, and a hydrodynamic separator. The contract calls for this work to be completed by late 2016.

Q: Why are trees being removed? How many will be removed?
A: Seven existing trees will be removed from the Culler Lake area during the project. Three trees are being removed because of their proximity to the failing retaining wall at the eastern end of the lake; they need to be removed in order for the retaining wall to be demolished and reconstructed as part of the project. If we do not upgrade this wall, the lake embankment will collapse into the lake and create a safety hazard. The remaining trees are being removed in order to provide room for proposed park improvements and to save other, more valuable adjacent trees. On this, still other trees surrounding Culler Lake will be pruned and trimmed by a certified arborist under the supervision of the City arborist. Finally, except for these seven trees, all other trees inside the construction fencing will be protected with tree protection fencing or other approved methods. And, all trees that have been removed will be replaced by the City with new, native specie trees at the end of the project.

Q: Why has gravel been placed near the Culler Memorial bench?
A: This will provide a stronger and cleaner surface so that trucks and allied heavy equipment can get to Culler Lake for dredging processes with getting mired in the mud or tracking mud (which becomes silt in the street run-off when it rains) on City streets.

Q: When will benches around Culler Lake be removed while construction takes place? 
A: The City of Frederick will remove benches in February, 2016, and store them until they can be returned to their specified location around Culler Lake after construction of the New Culler Lake.

Q: Who are the people using the Skater’s Shelter?
A: The contractor for the New Culler Lake Phase I, Morgan-Keller, is using the Skater’s Shelter as its on-site office.

Q: Why is the Culler Lake water level draining?  
A: The pump that pumps water from Carroll Creek into Culler Lake has been turned off, and in early February the valve that can be utilized to drain Culler Lake was opened.

Q: Is water still being pumped into Culler Lake?
A: No, the pump that pumps water from Carroll Creek into Culler Lake has been turned off. The lake level is decreasing without precipitation.

Q: What is being done to prevent silt in existing Culler Lake water from entering Carroll Creek while the lake is drained?
A: A sophisticated, fine mesh filter bag is being used to remove the majority of silt, etc., from flowing into Carroll Creek as it is pumped out of Culler Lake. This filtration system will be supplemented with bales of hay that will capture any remaining additional sediment.

Q: Where will the sediment dredged from the lake go?
A: It will be trucked to the Mercer Farm located on City-owned airport land and spread on the fields. Testing has shown that Culler Lake sediment is field spreadable.

Q: Will residents have access to the Culler Lake “room” while work progresses?
A: A chain link fence will be erected around active work sites, meaning the portions of the area around the lake – and sometimes the entire lake area – will not be accessible to park patrons. The mixed use path on the other side of Carroll Creek will remain unaffected by this effort and will remain open.

Q: How will flooding of Baker Park after heavy rain falls affect Culler Lake renaissance plans?
A: In the short-term, flooding will cause work on the new Culler Lake to stop. In the longer term, Friends of Baker Park is aware that future storms that cause Carroll Creek to crest its banks and flood Culler Lake will redeposit some sediment into the lake. The board felt, however, that investing in storm water best management practices to mitigate storm water runoff flowing into the lake represented a benefit to Carroll Creek, the Monocacy, the Potomac, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay that we should not overlook. On this, the technology being installed is anticipated to reduce or eliminate the need to dredge the lake again.

Q: What is the strategy for dealing with fish and other aquatic life in Culler Lake as the lake is drained?
A:Turtles will be relocated to Carroll Creek. Baker Park visitors should stay alert about this over the coming months since this will put larger snapping turtles in closer proximity to people walking along Carroll Creek as the turtles re-acclimate to new surroundings.

Culler Lake hosts a number of invasive, non-native fish species that we do not want back in the lake. Per State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, relocation of these fish cannot be made to public ponds, lakes, or other waterways. Contractor Morgan Keller has contracted with Aqua-Don to remove fish from Culler Lake. The fish will be bagged, anesthetized, sedated, and then euthanized, and finally taken to the Frederick County landfill. This fish removal process will employ standard practices that use the most humane methods possible. On this, plans call for the introduction of catfish, sunfish, and largemouth bass (all native species) into Culler Lake once the storm water best management projects are installed and the lake is refilled.

Q: I have heard concerns about one of the bird species that nests around Culler Lake, and the impact the desilting and rebuilding process will have on them this spring.  Can you tell me if any consideration was given to this issue during the process?
A: Preserving the heron rookery was indeed considered. The pine trees on the lake’s western edge are not included in any construction and will not be removed, thereby retaining the heron rookery.

The Friends of Baker Park did interact with Maryland’s DNR when planning this project. On this, it is not clear how impactful draining and desilting of the lake will be since, while a convenient feeding place, Culler Lake is not the only place that the heron’s feed. Further, the resulting lake will yield benefits to the heron’s such as:

  1. Cleaner water more suitable to a wider range of native aquatic life;
  2. A 10′ underwater “shelf” around the edge that will be planted with native grasses, making additional habitat for fish and amphibians;
  3. Restocked fish populations of three native species (sunfish, catfish, bass) that would not be possible given the existing lake’s current poor water quality.

In all cases, Friends of Baker Park wishes to retain and enhance the heron rookery and feels this rookery is a terrific plus to Baker Park.

Q: Are taking pictures of the work permitted?
A: Sure! If you wish, send them to info@friendsofbakerpark.org and we’ll post them in an album documenting progress.

Have a question about the New Culler Lake? Please email us.
Want to make a donation to advance New Culler Lake Progress? Please email your interest in being contacted.