Saturday, February 2, 2008

Val weighs in on Red Oak Park debate

The following was posted recently on a blog spot managed by a resident of Ward 4:
Val's impression of Ward I meeting on Red Oak Park
Red Oak Park, Again and Again

The Red Oak Park was the subject to a long discussion again at the Ward 4 meeting. The same old stuff was rehashed again. We had a suggestion of redoing the storm drainage in the neighborhoods so that water is no longer flowing into the park. Wow, is that an economically feasible option! Aubry once again preach the Gospel of Rain Gardens. Again, this should have been done in the initial planning of the neighborhoods. There is no way the City can legally force people to maintain rain gardens on their property. Look, a lot of these residents are renters who have a difficult time keeping their homes garbage free. No way are they going to upkeep a rain garden. The Parks and Recreation are looking into what it would take to put in a detention pond. I don't think there is enough room for it and even if there is, it would destroy all the trees and vegetation on the south end of the park. The south end also has the most usable part of the park. It currently has a small track and a playground. Say goodbye to that! That leaves the plan that Mr Dale Evans has proposed. Sad to say, no decision was reached. Well, there was a decision to have another meeting. Arghhhh!

In response, Aubrey James Shepherd wrote and afterward added to his comment:

Post a Comment On: Val's Bien
"Red Oak Park, Again and Again"
1 Comment - Show Original Post
aubunique said...
Val, Dale Evans was Roy Rogers' wife! We have both heard Dave Evans of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission called Dale enough times in Ward 4 and City Council meetings that it is hard to avoid. I will proof this comment to make sure I got it right.

I agree that rain gardens should have been required on all development sites for decades. They have been used in many cities for decades and people in the past didn't pave much and grassy swales (vegetated ditches) were standard before curb and gutter became popular and required in many places.

Now low-impact development experts advocate only rare use of curb and gutter in residential areas. Ditches and grassy swales don't have to be mowed much if they are planted with Vinca or other low-growing, low-maintenance plants to prevent erosion that in many cases fills them.

Rain gardens and rain barrels and other suggestions are always given for managing stormwater to keep it out of the streets and storm drains and receiving streams. We have seen such programs on the Government Channel almost daily for months.

I believe that the money to rechannel the storm drains near the upper end of the park to a large rain garden inside the bounds of the open space might be less than rerouting the water inside the park stream. If we don't stop a high percentage of the flow during flash floods, the erosion will continue and the park will remain unusable much of the time.

I believe that people who study the rain garden concept will understand that maintenance is minimal once they have selected the low parts of their property for the garden or gardens and guided the water there. Native flowering plants don't require watering during dry periods and NO MOWING.

By keeping mulch on top of aborbent soil in the rain garden a person can easily suppress weeds (defined as plants you don't like) and encourage the chosen ones.

Please visit the Red Oak Park blogspot and comment. Also, please visit the flickr site for various sets of photos on aspects of World Peace Wetland Prairie and photos of many of the flowering native plants that work in rain gardens.

WPWP is a natural 2-acre rain garden with native plants already there. The nice thing about creating a rain garden on bare ground is that only a bit of grass has to be dug out. WPWP had a heavy growth of Japanese honeysuckle and fescue that we will be working to remove for sometime to come!

If you will share the link with others, maybe we can get some serious dialogue going on the Red Oak Park blogspot and on your site and other sites before the Feb. 11 meeting. So far, I have seen only a couple of anonymous posts on the new blog. It will be nice to have another registered blogger posting to give credibility to what is being discussed. But I set it up to accept anonymous posts because some people just fear speaking out in public. And what they have to say may be important. If it is important to them, it should be important to us.

"There is no way the City can legally force people to maintain rain gardens on their property," Val said.

I agree. And I have never suggested that the city force "maintaining a rain garden" on a private owner of property. I have only talked about getting other volunteers to join me in going door to door to explain the value of rain gardens and suggest people consider adding at least one to their property.

Maintaining a rain garden is nearly cost free. Isn't it odd that we accept the idea that the city can force people to maintain a monoculture lawn by mowing it regularly? That costs a lot and is absolutely counter to the principles of sustainability our city leaders have been touting lately.

If someone comes by and convinces me I should plant a nonnative species of typical lawn grass, spend money and labor fertilizing it and and watering it and mowing it, that would not violate my civil rights. But forcing me to do those things would violate my civil rights.

If someone comes by to convince me to create a rain garden in my yard, I would be able to show that person that my property already was a natural rain garden when we bought it and that we keep the rain soaking in on our property in every way we can because it helps our flowering plants to grow and allows the few patches of grass on our property to grow without fertilization or watering except in the worst of droughts.

4:04 PM Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008


Valerie said...

I think that putting in some rain gardens at the very southern end might be possible. That’s a question for Carol. There is quite a bit on vegetation that could possible be improved and Mr. Evens could have included that into the plan. However, how much of that southern end should be used? Do we want to eliminate the playground and the running track? As for getting people to put in rain gardens, it's great if you can get them to volunteer to put one in. What percent of the households need to put one in to make a significant difference? The Botanical Gardens could help with this by offering classes on rain gardens. Maybe they could offer some of the plants at a discounted price for those who attend the classes. It’ll be easy for me to distribute information on a garden class to my neighborhood POA.

aubunique said...

Thank you for commenting, Val.

The way things go these days, it would cost a great deal to hire consultants to do a study to essentially come up with a reasonable guess on how much water has to be retained to prevent erosion in the park.
Bursts of heavy rain seem to come often and extended periods of really heavy rain could cause a lot more damage in a hurry.
So a combination of activities to start the process may be the only way to go.
No engineer could give a firm answer because predicting a limit on the amount of rain that might suddenly come in a short period is impossible.

If you agree it is important to get a lot more people involved in this process in order to find out how many property owners would participate voluntarily, then please share the links to the photos on Flickr and the rain-garden brochure also on Flickr.

The more people we can get to look at the information available, engage in discussion on your blog and the Red Oak Park blogspot and then attend the upcoming meeting, the more likely Lioneld and Shirley can judge how much more time and money should go into the process.

Do you have email addresses for representatives of other POAs and neighborhood association in the watershed?

One thing I saw in my several visits to the neighborhood is that a lot of grassy area is available on private property.

The UA County Extension Office (Katy Teague is the specialist for raingardens and watershed issues) has produced a brochure simililar to the one I posted on Flickr on the value of retaining water on private property and how to do it.
They even have DVDs on the subject based on information offered by experts from out of state as well as the local staff.

Because the meeting a week from tonight won't require people to drive downtown, it should be easier to get more neighbors to attend.

My experience in the Town Branch neighborhood is that some of the renters will want to participate and that they can be a significant asset.

However, the percentage of residents and property owners aware of the park problem must rise drastically to give us a chance to judge the possible level of cooperation we might get.

I don't think that eliminating the track or the playground would be considered. A good-sized rain garden in the lowest portion of that open space could be created and still allow a lot of space for frisbee and informal ball games and walking dogs and flying kites and other things.
And the introduction of lots of flowering plants with butterflies and birds visiting can make it much more attractive to people who now probably never bother to walk there.
Let's combine our ideas. The photos that Jim and I made offer a good start on information.
If a really big rain comes soon and some of us can get a few shots of the water rushing downstream without destroying our cameras, the problem will be more understandable for everyone.
You have good ideas to get out the information out and we need more people to brainstorm the problem before decisions are made.
Let's stay in touch. I check email several times every day and will be watching for comments on your blog and this one regularly.
I respond to callers that leave name and number regularly. I don't have caller ID or call waiting, however.

Anonymous said...

Good start on dialogue. I'll look at your photos and try to figure how what the talk means.

Anonymous said...

Does this really need any more talk? Just find one property owner to create the first rain garden to show what it is like and get this information to the rest ASAP!

It could be a much-improved place if we just get started.