Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lick Creek Update

Mary Cashiola's article in the Flyer was a good overview, but I thought I'd add some photos and a little more detail about the two possible dams on the zoo end.

The main plan of widening the box culvert under Poplar and widening a couple of bridges just downstream of Poplar in the park (the golf course area) seems to be set, but all that widening lets in a lot more water at once, in order to relieve the flooding in Belleair Circle. The trouble at the zoo end is that all that water would smash into the zoo, which is already having flooding issues.

The original plan submitted by the engineers had a dam running along the fence between the zoo and its parking lot, beginning just to the right of the entrance plaza (photo above). There's already a fence here, and just a line of scrub hollies (photo below), so it makes sense as a place to put a wall, that would need to be five or so feet high.

However, the zoo has recently requested that the wall be pushed to the very fringe of their parking lot and run around the edge of the Greensward, either on top or just outside the line of maturing oaks that are growing there as a screen (photo below).
These oaks (below) that jut out into the line of the parking lot might be lost all together, even if the engineers save the ones inside the small fence around the existing culvert (above).
Pushing this concrete wall/dam to the edge of the Greensward moves the dam to lower ground, meaning that a textured concrete wall will rise to be 6-8 feet high in most places instead of the lower height that would be necessary where a fence already exists along the front of the zoo. It will be an intrusive visual barrier to those using the Greensward and may well destroy many of the trees around the edge of the Greensward, either through cutting them down or damage during construction or a higher amount of standing water around their roots.

The zoo wants to keep every square inch of its parking lot out of the flood plain, even though that small, far corner of its lot is in the flood plain under existing conditions, as are many roads and parking areas in other parts of Midtown. The zoo, unlike these other roads and lots, has daily parking attendants who could cone the area off on days when rain is predicted (and the entire lot is never needed on rainy days), and they also have a loudspeaker system that could announce possible flooding if heavy rains come and warn people to move their cars.

The Lick Creek Coalition, excepting only the zoo's representative, voted to urge the city to stay with its original plan. Since the zoo is benefitting from the flood control, they should be willing to have some small part of the necessary construction in their part of the park instead of pushing it all out to the Greensward and golf course. The zoo is looking at further options and will be meeting again this month with the neighborhood and park groups that comprise the Lick Creek Coalition to see if they can come up with a plan that doesn't intrude so strongly on the Greensward. We look forward to hearing their ideas.

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