Why I support Option 2 (with improvements)

Nov. 30 meeting to discuss options for the Hillcrest-Upland Greenway

Engineer Lisa Coleman (left) explained options, Alder Chris Schmidt moderated.  About 50 neighbors attended--they had done their homework, and asked many questions.

At the Nov. 30th meeting on the Greenway Repair Options, we had a chance to assess where neighbors and city officials stood on the plans:
  • Option 1--Replace sewer, bury stream, road on top
  • Option 2--Replace sewer, stream uncovered but with riprap, no road
  • Option 3--Reline sewer, leave stream natural, erosion not fixed
  • Option 4--our counter proposal: Reline sewer & other spot fixes, fix erosion, leave stream natural 
One neighbor requested a show of hands in support for Option 1. Although about 50 people attended the meeting, no one present supported Option 1. Nevertheless, I know at least one person whose property abuts the greenway who would vote for Option 1.

My impression of the evening was that most people who attended want to greenway to be as natural as possible, but they also want erosion controlled, and they want their sewers to work for many years to come. Most neighbors are going to closely follow recommendations of City Engineering. And City Engineering does not support Option 3 or the unofficial Option 4 that we proposed.

Why abandon Option 4?  First of all, it doesn't solve the erosion, and solving that is important for the health of the lake.  Second, the City simply doesn’t feel #4 is practical. They would probably say it’s the “have your cake and eat it too” option.  In heaven, I believe there is a contractor who could deliver on Option 4. But this is the real world, and there’s no one in the City who is going to make it happen. They don’t have the kind of expertise--a combination of landscaping and engineering--to make it possible.

So people who love the trees and wildlife in the greenway are faced with a decision:
  • Continue to work for #3 or #4, with no hope for success, or
  • Support #2, provided the City adds improvements to the option.

Ravine in Pheasant Branch Conservancy with series of dams & pools

I believe that supporting Option 2, on the condition that certain improvements are added,  is a better use of our time.  Here are some of the improvements to Option 2 that we can lobby for, with the most likely to succeed listed first:
  1. A final meeting to review detailed plans, including landscaping, before plans are finalized.  Our support is contingent on what we hear at this meeting.
  2. Better landscaping, including planting saplings to replace lost trees
  3. Special efforts to safeguard trees at the edge of the construction zone.
  4. A series of rock dams and pools along the ravine to slow floodwaters & serve as rain gardens.  See photo above.
  5. Better cleanup.
  6. Field stones instead of limestone for the riprap (we need an ironclad commitment)
  7. A contract with penalties for contractor if they cause damage outside the construction zone.
  8. Funds for rain barrels and soaker hoses, facilitating plant growth to make the ravine more resistant to erosion.
  9. A strainer at the lower end to catch dead leaves and periodically remove them.
  10. Remediation--restore some of the habitat lost to riprap
  11. Add funds to the greenway budget that could be used to promote rain gardens upstream. 
To find out the reasons behind each of the "improvements" abvove, go here.

In assembling the list above, I was impressed with the numerous ways that we can still influence this project for the better.

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