SOUTH BEND — It’s fun for the kids. But it’s horribly unhealthy for the animals.
If you grew up in Michiana or have young children here now, you might have fed ducks and geese some bread or crackers in a chain-link fenced, circular concrete structure in Leeper Park.
The duck pond has been there for 112 years, but the coming spring will be its last.
The Historic Preservation Commission of South Bend and St. Joseph County on Monday night voted 3-2 to let the city remove the pond as part of a five-component, $1.5 million revamping of the park aimed at drawing more visitors. The city’s Venues, Parks & Arts department needed the commission’s approval because the city designated the park a historical landmark in 1996.
The proposal drew a standing-room-only crowd, the most-attended meeting that Joe Molnar said he’d seen in his two and a half years as a commissioner. Eleven people spoke in support of removing the pond, eight of whom live nearby. No one spoke against the project, although pond advocates had spoken at past HPC hearings.
Commission President Michele Gelfman said her research had found serious health problems, including bone disease, in ducks and geese who subsist largely on low-protein and low-calcium “junk food,” such as bread, crackers and popcorn, fed to them by people.