02 April 2010

Difficulties Abound in Conserving Natural Scenes in Two Midtown Parks

There have been too many notables at the end of March and first day of April, of degradations of two park spaces in Midtown Omaha. It is difficult to delineate, even a day or two afterward, because of too many events.

After the paint spill of Monday which impacted Memorial Park - as previously noted - the next day meant an awareness of ongoing ignoring of Omaha city ordinances.

Someone had defaced numerous trees in the same park space. At the first light of morning, whilst about to see migrating gulls and to also check the crime scene tainted by paint, there were many colorful spots on a bunch of trees.

Carefully the perp stapled 3x5" index cards to the trees, for some unknown reason. Written on each was a letter and number - i.e, A 1 or C 5, including F 5 - so there were apparently 30 cards stapled onto the trees throughout the park.

Being astride an all-terrain vehicle, my bicycling route went around and about so the obvious and readily unwanted note cards could be ripped from the trees upon which they had been invoked.

The same thing happened the next day, when more were noticed, that had been missed at the first attempt to get rid of the desecration upon the arboreal splendor of the park space.

This was after another discussion with the woman exercising in the park environs, while her two hunting dogs were running amuck in the park, at Happy Hollow Creek. She said the days' visit was new, as during the five previous months, her dogs had been taken to places in Omaha where dogs are supposed to run without a lease. While we were talking, one dog took a dump in the woods, and its owner, never cleaned up the mess!

Along the route to the south, birds were the main focus, but other situations intruded.

A construct was noted on the east side of Wood Creek, east of the swimming pool parking lot. Upon looking closer, it was a massive effort, in relative terms. Included were signs, multiple instances of wood hammered onto the tree with nails, steps towards the great blue of the sky, etc.

Views of the so-called "Clear Channel" construct in the Elmwood Park Ravine.

Limbs and other items which had been thrown into Wood Creek. This material inhibits flows, and in subsequent higher flows, would get washed downstream and further block the culvert under the street at the entrance to the park at the round-about.

The setting along Wood Creek after the branches and limbs had been removed from the water channel.

Only a portion was destroyed, but it seemed to be a suitable message to the creators that this thing which was illegally created, will eventually disappear.

The horrendous condition included multiple violations of placing debris in a waters of the United States, or Wood Creek, using the proper local moniker.

There was lumber lying about, obviously to be used for adding to the "Clear Channel" construct, based on the signs at the site. What a misnomer, as the perps putting together this thing, made certain to block the flow of the creek by throwing into the waters a bunch of material that inhibited the flow, degraded the quality of the water, and added trash and debris that would cause ongoing problems downstream.

The site of the leaking sewer pipe at Wood Creek in Elmwood Park. The creek is visible in the middle portion of the image, on the left side.

Most prominently, an errant flow from an 18" pipe across Wood Creek, in Elmwood Park near Wood Duck Point, was noticed. The flow varied but its continuancy did not seem to ebb. So after a couple of phone calls, and determining what dial number to press, the situation was reported to the Department of Public Works, City of Omaha.

More would happen on this, but other notable needs to be expressed in a timeline manner.

After realizing the status of the construct - dubbed Clear Channel by its creators, after some consideration beyond the finish of the bird survey, and later in the morning, a portion of the construct was demolished by using hefty 2x4 to pry loose pieces of wood nailed to the silent trees.

Further along the way, walking towards the hills of Dundee, a stop was made to explain what is planned for the creek to a weather reporter for a local television station, doing yard work. He knew nothing of what was going to happen ... though perhaps the might help to point out problems and help to maintain the features which people appreciate.

Upon reaching a place with a land-line phone, a call was made to the supervisor of maintenance of the Omaha Department of Parks Recreation and Public Property, to tell him about the fort new fort on Wood Creek. He was going into a meeting with the mayor of Omaha, Jim Suttle, and said he would call back in a hour.

Nothing was subsequently heard, and though further phone calls were made, there was never any answer.

Thursday morning brought more instances of unwanted things.

While bicycling towards the Clear Channel construct, the first delay was to pick up a stunned American Robin from Happy Hollow Boulevard and place it in a safer spot. It had probably been struck by a car and was unable to fly away.

A bit of ways southward, "poop" messages were written in chalk on the sidewalk of the Happy Hollow Trail. Some youngster was being anal and making sure everyone going by could see their lame expressions.

The heftiest part during the first part of the day, was removing all the unwanted stuff from the creek at the Clear Channel construct. Limbs were thrown out of the water. And then some more obstructions were taken from Wood Creek. It was a too warm morning for April 1st, but the results meant a channel clear of tree material, and it was done to make sure that the stuff in the creek would not end up downstream with the rains predicted to occur on Friday.

While dealing with the whole park scene, there were several morning conversations.

The first was with an officer of the Omaha Police Department, parked in the lot at the Elmwood Grotto. Topics were trash getting thrown into the park grounds, illegal constructs, and how to properly deal with these activities which are violations of city ordinances.

The whole conversation was quite interesting and educational. There are sublime differences need to address problems. What had been heard from officials of the Parks Department would not work in enforcing any law. What to do to get suitable enforcement requires specific instances and most importantly, timing. And conjecture, does not work, nor does putting 1+1 together based on what was done and any nearby attributable actions by home owners or their hired contractors.

It was certainly educational, and indicated some short-comings in comments previously made by city officials. It was almost a betrayal in what to do to deal with perps in Elmwood and Memorial Parks.

One was with a lawn-mowing or landscape contractor if you prefer, about their pickup and trailer being parked on the grass of the park space along Happy Hollow Boulevard.

The guy said that the landowner had talked with the police and the University of Nebraska at Omaha and had permission for the grass cutters to park on the grass.

What a fallacy. UNO has nothing to do with the site. And there was no permit on display.

Onward in Elmwood Park, the park manager, mowing grass, noted that no one has permission to park their vehicles on the grass. He suggested talking to parking enforcement.

Surprisingly, a short time late, the parking enforcement vehicle with its stalwart attendant, was in the parking lot at the Elmwood Park Grove.

After expressing views of the situation to the lawn mowers, the route northward included a stop at the limb-dam on Happy Hollow Creek, on the east side of Memorial Park. Thanks to water-proof boots, limbs were moved and tossed aside to facilitate the waters' flow. Plastic bottles and other things were thrown onto the creek bank for later consideration.

The waters flowed much better, and the scummy water surface was less prevalent whilst standing at the scene in a momentary consideration of the scene. Once a bag is handy, the awful plastic will get tossed into the trash can just to the south.

When picking up trash, one of the most important considerations is where it will be properly tossed, and an available receptacle make a big difference in the parks and the neighborhood. It is no joy to be carrying a stuffed bag of discards and not knowing how to suitably get rid of it. And hopefully this it can be easily done without needed to have a conversation if some trashy stuff can be thrown into a dumpster at an apartment complex in Carthage.

Later on Thursday morning and into the early afternoon, the men of Public Works were on the scene at the leaking pipe across Wood Creek. When the scene was visited and the main man Mike as on the phone working to get together the resources needed to address the situation. An interest about what was going to happen, showed a worker's effort to make cell-phone calls to have what was needed to get rid of the leak from a sewage pipe-line at Wood Creek.

Work is underway on getting the leak of sewer-water repaired. Public Works employees worked till 1 a.m. Friday morning, and were on the scene again in a few hours to get the work done to the greatest extent possible before expected rains occur. The work site was visited after removing a bag of mostly plastic trash from the paint tainted spot, before any rain might wash it down the creek. Four wood ducks were chased away upon arrival. There is one other site where plastic bottles taken from Happy Hollow Creek will be cleaned up, this ending the weeks whirl wind.

City equipment at the sewer line repair in Elmwood Park.

More is pending for these parks and what can be done to deal with trash, upstream perps, inadequate or blocked water flows, misparked contractors ignorant of how the city ordinances apply, inconsiderate visitors stapling cards on trees or letting their dogs run loose and poop without their owner picking up, and the entire multitude of challenges to having a suitable, clean place to recreate, and most importantly a valuable habitat for a multitude of local bird-life which do not have their own advocate.

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