01 December 2012

Adams Park and Stormwater Planning Meeting

Changes are coming to Adams Park and the local neighborhood, as presented by Omaha officials and hired consultants at a public meeting on November 29th.

A "final" version of master plan for Adams Park was presented. It has a stated goal to "look for unique programming and amenities" to make the park "a valuable asset to the community" and a "catalyst for neighborhood revitalization and development."

Concerns now are that much of the park is "hidden" since it is not visible from the street, and that since parts of the park were not "accessible by walking paths," they were not used.

Key potential components mentioned include:

  • expanding the park east to 30th street at its northeast corner, and south to Maple Street on its southern extent;
  • construction of interior roads;
  • widening of Creighton Boulevard;
  • construction of an urban farming and community gardening center;
  • constructing ten picnic pavilions; and
  • adding a "whole series" of walking paths, that would have an overall length of 4.25 miles within the 60-acre park.

Additional changes are indicated in the master plan graphic, originally prepared a year ago.

There were differences between the plan as prepared by the Parks department, and a revised storm-water wetland plan as proposed for the CSO! project, as both were explained at the meeting. Another example, a proposed site for a picnic-pavilion would be within the storm-water wetland.

Two other proposals for Adams Park are also available and referenced during the question and answer period following presentations by project officials. Each proposal is different, which raised questions by attendees.

A plan presented at a design review meeting "is very conceptual at this point," according to a planner with the Omaha Parks Recreation and Public Property. Further meetings would be held on the park plan as the "master plan" is further evaluated in the future, the planner said.

CSO! Project

The current CSO! proposal was the most recent indication of plans for the western portion of the park, and was the primary local topic, other than a general overview of the ongoing effort to separate sewer and storm-water in eastern Omaha.

Significant changes in the park, include:

1) Removal of the Gabrielle Union Pond, and replacing it with an area of turf-grass and where there was no indication of a replacement for the "landmark" built in 2000 in honor the Omaha-born actress;
2) Construction of basins to hold storm-water runoff, which will have four zones: water, wetland, wet meadow and lowland. The basins will start at the south end of the park, and extend across its western portion to where it will be deepest in the its northwest corner, where the ball-field is currently. The sole source of water will be storm-water runoff, as there are no plans to provide supplemental water, according to CSO! engineers.
3) Construction of "straight" 36th street, across the west edge of the park, along the power-line corridor. A previous proposal indicated a "curved" alignment.

Proposed storm-water wetland at the western section of Adams Park. Image courtesy of Omaha Public Works.

Few details on the physical characteristics of the wetlands were given — i.e., expected water depth or basin size — with the focus on how the site will be a "community amenity." A depiction was available to convey a view of the potential, idealized setting, with its "sunny" perspective.

Depiction of storm-water wetland setting at the western section of Adams Park.

Nothing was said regarding how the Gabrielle Union Pond, which is now a prominent feature in the park-scape, will continue. The proposed plan indicates the site will become a field of turf.

The CSO! project in this area, other than the storm-water basins in the park, will primarily involve a newly constructed pipe conveyance system to carry water from the basin into the park, and then further northward. Two large map-graphics of the area and proposed constructs overlain on aerial photography of the neighborhood, were available for review, indicating its massive extent.

After the public discourse, additional commentary occurred. There was a positive response to views. However, there was little interest shown in including other measures such as bioretention gardens, including potentially at Franklin Elementary School and Erskine Park or private property which is currently vacant. Project engineers also seemed indifferent to potential options to reduce runoff by removing unused areas of concrete at Erskine Park, or efforts to converse woodland tracts in the vicinity which are helpful in allowing water to infiltrate into the soil, rather than being runoff.

The meeting was an opportunity for public comment both in a group and one-on-one manner. Towards the end of the evening city officials did, personally, shorten a conversation by indicating that comments should be submitted in writing, rather than being discussed at the time.

The John Creighton Boulevard and Miami Sewer Separation Project is currently at a 30% stage of planning. An update meeting on the area CSO! project is expected in mid- to late-2013.

About 20 people and a similar number of officials were present at the meeting held at the Malcom X Center, north of Adams Park. It was scheduled for 6:30 to 7:30 P.M., but lasted at least an additional 30 minutes.