Robbins Transforming Mill Pond
There is a big, nearly empty hole in the ground behind the ash and rubble of the old mill in Robbins.
It used to be a pond, but there was a dam leak. Now the town is draining it down so the dam can be repaired and the pond restored.
Residents who live around the old pond like to fish there. They've been stocking it for years, and now they can sometimes take five- and six-pound bass out of it.
Those bass usually don't go into a frying pan and onto a plate, but back into the water instead, according to one local fisherman whose mother lives nearby. He's been worried about the bass.
"We fish 'catch-and-release' there," Daniel Hoeptner said. "When they opened the dam, the water just started gushing out. What happened to common sense? Don't they know the fish will die?"
Town Manager Brant Sikes is assuring everybody that the fish are safe. The town won't have to let all the water out, just enough to make the repairs, he says. The workers will make sure they leave enough depth of water for aquatic life to survive.
"That pond has needed work for a long time," Sikes said. "This is a big project, a fall and winter project to rehabilitate the Mill Pond."
The whole pond area is to be transformed.
"In the future, I visualize people getting together at picnic tables and benches there," Sikes said. "We will smooth down the banks and build a park."
It is not part of the mill property any longer. The town of Robbins owns the pond, he said.
The future of the mill property itself is unclear. An anonymous donor had brought a check for $10,000 to Town Hall last month. It would be a donation to Robbins if the town would use it to purchase and preserve the tall chimney that still stands by the ruins of the mill.
Questions were asked by commissioners about issues of liability and the cost of preservation. They didn't give Sikes authority to negotiate a quick sale of that part of the mill property, and time ran out. The gift was lost.
"I had to shred the check," Sikes said. "You hate to do something like that, shred a check for $10,000. You don't know when something like that would ever happen again."
The anonymous donor didn't offer any reason for the request, Sikes said. Whether some other future event would make it possible for that tall, brick smokestack to remain as a symbol of Robbins' name and history cannot be predicted.
The pond on the other side of the old mill will have new life once it is restored and improvements have transformed its banks into a waterside park -- a pretty place that will please fishermen, neighbors -- and fish.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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