Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Democrat/Gazette December 21, 2009, editorial advocating saving sale-barn land for Fayetteville National Cemetery pleases majority of veterans and neighbors, but the problem is that saving Town Branch homeowners from flooding downhill from the cemetery is still being ignored: VA already at work preparing to dredge and fill wetland and pipe stormwater directly to Hill Avenue and thus to the 11th Street bridge on the Town Branch

Please click on individual photos to ENLARGE view of wetland area along the north edge of the Fayetteville National Cemetery being prepared for dredging and filling for grave sites. The depressional wetland developed over centuries because it is above a bedrock karst area where groundwater sinks into the underground caverns and aquifers and reduces surface-water flooding. When it is piped to the Town Branch it will further aggravate the flooding danger between Ellis and Van Buren avenues already created by the University of Arkansas' failure properly to manage stormwater on the campus and by paving and development along Martin Luther King Boulevard and on the Aspen Ridge/Hill Place project.

Save acres for vets

Now buy the land for the cemetery

Monday, December 21, 2009
LITTLE ROCK — LIKE WARM Arkansas Christmases, dry eyes after It’s a Wonderful Life, and little boys from the Natural State scribbling “LSU gear” on their annual wish lists, some things are just not meant to be. That’s the way it seems with the controversial student apartments that apparently won’t be built in south Fayetteville. You know, where Washington County’s historic livestock auction house operated until June. A lawsuit that sought to override the city’s denial of a rezoning request seems to be kaput. Campus Crest developers of North Carolina wanted to buy the property from the auction house’s owner, Bill Joe Bartholomew, and build 500 apartments on the property. But the drawn-out legal ordeal surrounding this purchase became just too much to bear. Mr. Bartholomew now wants his suit dismissed. The proposed sale to Campus Crest became a flashpoint for veterans and others last summer. They wanted to secure the site across Government Avenue from the city’s National Cemetery so they might preserve the sacred nature of that location. They basically argued that more student apartments in an overbuilt Fayetteville wasn’t an appropriate use of the land. They had a point. The former auction barn parcel does provide an ideally located space to enlarge this rapidly filling cemetery. Fayetteville’s council denied Mr. Bartholomew’s request to rezone his property. The rezoning would have sealed the sale and enabled Campus Crest to purchase and develop the property. That’s when Mr. Bartholomew filed his suit against the city.
This latest development means the corporation that oversees the cemetery’s operation, Congress, the national office of Veteran’s Affairs, and veterans’ organizations need to find a way to purchase this property. The space needs to be preserved and protected as a final resting place for our veterans in the decades to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Audubon Arkansas open house from 4 to 7 p.m. today; Environmental Action Committee at 5:30 p.m. in Room 326 of city hall


Audubon Arkansas open house from 4 to 7 p.m. today; Environmental Action Committee at 5:30 p.m. in Room 326 of city hall

The Holiday Season is a busy time so here's a little reminder about our Holiday Open House! If you have not yet RSVP'd don't forget to drop us a line and let us know your are coming! We are looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Please Join Us

Thursday, December 10, 2009
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at
34 East Center Street
Fayetteville, Arkansas

For the
Audubon Arkansas
Holiday Open House

The staff and board of Audubon Arkansas invite you to join us for food, refreshments, conversation and conservation. Spouses, children, and friends welcome.
Please RSVP to mviney@audubon.org
Wishing You Happy Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Correction and addition to my previous comment

Rain gardens need NOT be raised areas. Raised areas can collect water only from higher ground. Defeats the purpose if one is trying to use as much ground as possible and makes them cost time, labor and money. 
No doubt grants can be grabbed for retrofitting badly designed and built neighborhoods to correct stormwater problems. But the money the landowners save on watering, fertilizing and mowing their English-manor style lawns will quickly pay them for whatever they might invest in turf removal and planting some native tall grass and wildflowers and some extra roof gutter and whatever is needed to route their driveway, sidewalk and roof water to an appropriate area. 
Grants may be needed for curb cuts to route water FROM the streets to the lawns and similar work. But that kind of work would be lagnaiappe.
Public education could bring about a time when homeowners look out their windows and admire their yards and say such things as "Look, honey, the water is pooling up in our yard and will be filtered as it soaks in and won't rush down to erode the banks of the stream that runs through our neighborhood nature park."
If you could be in our kitchen every time heavy rain comes, that is pretty much what you would hear!

Phil Penny's comment after attending Ward 4 meeting, seeing plans proposed for Red Oak Park and hearing public comment

The comment below Phil Penny basically mirrors my thought: Why are we ignoring the need and real possibility of helping every landowner upstream hold water on his property. People hear the term "rain garden" and think of the engineered "rain gardens" built to show people how they can work. The fact is that rain gardens should be raised areas and need not cost much except for gutters to route roof and driveway runoff to appropriate parts of each lot. While many of the lots were covered impervious red dirt and then with turf, many others have plenty of the original absorbent prarie soil available to serve as natural rain-catching areas.
And why has Dave Evans not been brought back to show his plan and utilize the state's most experienced team of stream-restoration workers: The Game and Fish Commission's Stream Team.
 Phil Penny says:
After hearing the comments made regarding the drainage area of Red Oak Park, I was very concerned. I have spent several years of my career remediating problems caused by humans trying to control nature without recognizing they are working with a functioning system.   
First of all, we need to think of the perception of the public when we call something a “ditch” as this first order stream was being called at the meeting and by the Northwest Arkansas Times on Tuesday. 
Ditches are human contrived, straightened waterways typically next to roads. Most people do not “value” ditches.  However, this waterway is an extremely important component to the watershed. After looking at aerial photos prior to development and the topography of the landscape, it meet the hydrological criteria of a first order ephemeral stream, which feeds into Hamstring Creek, a second order stream, and then into Clear Creek, a third order stream etc.  It needs to be treated as a first order stream, which is part of a larger system, even if it has been heavily impacted - all of these systems have been impacted do to this development. We need to make sure that our future impacts are sustainable and that they are in best interest of the public. Public perception depends upon us making clear what is at stake – like the health of our water. 

After listening to the two proposed plans, my concern is they both have a piping system incorporated in them. Have we not learned what happens when we pipe water? Velocities and increase. Plug pools will dissipating energy. However water absorption is nonexistent in pipies. Won’t this just put the issue in someone else’s neighborhood?

The water has to be slowed. Dave Evan’s plan will stabilize the bank and it will slow water and increase absorption rates. However, Peter Futterknecht talked about slowing these impacts before they enter the system. This can help mitigate these impacts naturally. Since the area of absorption or the watershed is now a residential area, slowing water with rain barrels, cisterns, rain gardens, bio swales, check dams, and detention ponds up stream of this first order stream would have the greatest most positive impact. Piping water is not the solution. However, Low Impact Development is the key to not having this happen in the future. Just some of my thoughts. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Council member Sarah Lewis talks with constituents, Peter Futterknecht and Phil Penny, after Ward 4 meeting

Residents Want Park, Not Pipes


By By Skip Descant

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Print item

FAYETTEVILLE — Restoring the banks of a washed-out drainage ditch in Red Oak Park can be done in several approaches.

Or, not at all.

“Do you want something done?” asked Shirley Lucas, a Fayetteville City Council member, during Monday night’s Ward 4 meeting where residents met to discuss the future of the small park.

“It’s a nice little natural area,” said Pete Futterknecht, who lives in the area, and wants the bank restoration not to appear overly engineered.

City park and engineering officials used the ward meeting to gather feedback from residents regarding how they would like to see the eroded drainage ditch that flows through the small park near the Bridgeport, Willow Springs and Fieldstone subdivisions restored.

One of the city’s restoration options would use pipes to channel the water to nearby Hamestring Creek. The piping and “plunge pools” would cut down on erosion, said Chris Brown, Fayetteville city engineer.

“We really didn’t like that idea,” said Carole Jones, a park planner for the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Division.

This solution is expected to cost about $490,000, according to city documents.

The second option presented Monday night would use less piping and instead create a series of “ponding areas,” where the water would collect, drop its debris load and hopefully slow down. This solution would likely mean the removal of an existing park pavilion. This proposal could cost about $215 000.

Neither of these options seemed to be wholly embraced by residents who were clear in their desire to have a natural wooded park accessible to the dozens of homes in the nearby neighborhood.

“If you remove the pavilion, Bridgeport has lost its park,” said Paul Johnson, president of the Bridgeport Property Owners Association, and who views existing features like tables, benches, grills or basketball courts as essential to his community having a neighborhood park.

The amount of water flowing through the drainage ditch is not likely to drop. The area is heavily built with new subdivisions and Oakbrook Phase III is planned on an adjoining 30-acre plot. So residents are looking for a solution that slows the water down.

“I know there’s got to be something that we can do to slow this velocity, upstream,” Futterknecht said.

That “something” is what city officials will be looking at in the coming weeks as they draft a concept plan to be accepted by the City Council and then the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Public comments are due by the end of the day Friday, and should be sent to the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Division.

News, Pages 1 on 12/01/2009