- Presentation of the project by an engineer
- Technical questions by board members
- Technical questions by citizens
- Comments by citizens (limited to three minutes each)
- Discussion among board members.
- Motion to approve the project (sometimes with a few modifications), then a vote.
The original plan for four dams has been cut back to three because one resident objected--probably Mr. Ozanne, because later he commented that he was opposed to dams because of the mosquitoes that plagued his family when he was young.
One board member confirmed that it is now City policy to hold contractors responsible for damage to trees outside planned area, and Lisa confirmed that they would delimit the construction area with fencing (except for the lateral sewage lines). I believe I heard that the project will be bid for natural fieldstone riprap.
During technical questions, we learned that the Vactor trucks can work with hoses up to 600 feet long, but that they cannot operate from Upland or Hillcrest because of the 90 degree bend that would be required in a hose coming down from either street. So the gravel road to the first manhole from the east end is still required--the gravel will be covered with topsoil, as in Westmorland park (where it still looks a little ratty).
Comments from residents on the plan
Peter Mitchell asked about disturbance to residents from construction, talked about the large size of equipment, and his fears about expected collateral damage to trees. He questioned why large trees couldn’t be planted; Lisa replied that, after they lay down the riprap, heavy equipment won’t be able to come in to plant large trees. Board member Phillips agreed that he, too, is concerned about collateral damage to trees.
Mitchell said, rather pointedly, that residents were concerned that--even at this meeting--there weren’t enough details provided for residents to fully understand what was planned.
I have to agree. I still cannot understand why a rain garden at the east end cannot be built to take runoff from South Owen Drive. I have looked at the lay of the land there, and can’t see a valid reason against it. You might say: "Citizens should just trust city engineers to do their job." The problem is, people report that project details are sometimes modified in mid-stream, so they don't turn out as presented in public meetings.
Responding to Mitchell’s critical tone, board member Michael Rewey defended Lisa, saying twice that in the ten years he has served on the board, hers was the best presentation he had ever heard.
Alder Paul responded that, putting things in perspective, sewers were important, and there would be s*** in people’s basements if something wasn’t done. Trees were important, but it was unavoidable to lose some, and they would grow back.
David Thompson said:
- The original cause of damage to the greenway was excessive runoff from upstream.
- It would be better for both the neighborhood and the city to solve the runoff problem, but this project does nothing to address runoff issues, despite the fact that just upstream is a park where runoff could be moderated.
- The city would be better served if runoff were solved at the source--an example being the need for an expensive project underway to prevent flooding downstream on University Avenue.
- In summary, the Board of Public Works should give greater weight to watershed issues.
The project is approved
The Board approved the project as presented, all 7 members voting in favor.
In my last blog posting, I said I expected the greenway plan would be “rubber-stamped by the board. After seeing them in action, I don’t think the Board gives all projects a rubber stamp approval. For a number of projects, there were numerous comments and questions from board members, and even some minor modifications requested for a project before it was voted on.
That said, the Greenway plan was passed with no modifications, and approved unanimously. Two Board members actively supported the plan in the face of criticism from residents. I suspect Board support reflects the fact that Lisa Coleman and Chris Schmidt have worked so hard on this project, going through three neighborhood meetings.
In short, all the juice has been squeezed from this lemon--there’s no more lemonade to be had.
What more can we do?
- Work to reform the Board of Public Works--give it a greener perspective.
- Remember and vote for Adlers and Mayors who back green infrastructure.
- Review the landscaping plan.
- Watch construction and sound the alarm if any trees outside the fence are touched.
- Find out how trees along the lateral lines will be protected--that's still up in the air.
- Make sure natural fieldstone riprap is used, as promised.
- Attend and register to make comments at the Common Council hearing on May 4. Let the City know the process isn't "green" enough.
- Make sure redevelopment of the Mt.Olive Church property reduces stormwater runoff from the current levels.