Comments from the Spring Lake Neighborhood AssociationBy Janet Bonet, president of the Spring Lake Neighborhood Association. This was a handout provided at the April 29 pre-construction meeting at the Spring Lake golf course clubhouse. Used with permission.
REQUESTS FOR THE SPRING LAKE PARK POND PROJECT
USE OF THE REPLACEMENT TREES
First, we feel there are far more trees and shrubs being removed that should have been counted as part of the replacement equation. It is the current thick canopy that is so important for the birds and we hope that the plantings done in the pond construction area will be finished in such a way that the birds will have as thick a canopy again so they return and thrive. We had nesting pairs of hawks and owls in the pond area for decades and it would be a shame if we never see them again. The Neotropical migration of grosbeaks, crossbills, orioles, and others is a wonderful part of living on the edge of a thickly forested park.
The Spring Lake Neighborhood Association has been trying to get some beautification done on the southwest and northwest corners of the intersection of 13th and Missouri Avenue including the strip along the north side of Missouri Avenue from 13th to 15th Street.
We are requesting that some of the trees/shrubs that have to be removed for the pond project be replaced in this Missouri Avenue segment. The neighborhood association had worked with a landscape architect a couple years ago but we did not like or approve the design she came up with and she was unable to meet with us and change it before she moved to another city. The association would like to work with the Omaha Parks Department to come up with a simple planting plan that allows for some shade trees and tall shrubs (for hiding the cement wall on the southwest corner) to be placed in the mentioned areas.
The hill between 14th and 15th Street along the access road is butchered every year by the mowing team and it looks horrible from spring to fall. The wildflowers that were planted in the space between the access road and Missouri Avenue are mowed each time they are just starting to bloom so we never have been able to see them be anything but chopped off. Though they do survive drought better than turf even if we never see them in bloom.
Beautifying this area will help to put a really nice finishing touch to the replacement plantings to be done in the rest of the park.
We support the plantings for Lynch, Deer Hollow and the area south along 13th by Mount Vernon Gardens but believe that the area around the 13th and Missouri intersection should take priority given the proximity to the park and the importance of the intersection as a gateway to Omaha. A number of trees were lost in that area when the bridge was redone and the pond project replacement trees offer an opportunity for regaining some shade there. Doing so will relieve the neighborhood association of the difficult task of scraping together funding to beautify these corners. We hope that the City and CSO contractors will work with the neighbors on improving the corners.
The area in the park where three trees were lost to severe winds several years ago along the “J” Street right-of-way from 15th to 14th Street should be replaced as well, using the pond replacement trees. There are several trees in the far south section of the park now marked with numbers and we do not know what that means. If any are to be removed, those should be replaced in that same area.
As part of the park overhaul, it will be important to get a qualified arborist into the park to schedule and carryout proper trimming of the trees throughout the park – with minimal removal.
EXTENDING/COMPLETING THE WAKING/BIKING TRAIL
There have been several questions about what the planting plan is for the replacement of trees removed along Spring Lake Drive from “I” Street to 13th Street. And can more replacement trees be used to create shade along the west side of 13th Street. It was a real shame that the sidewalk was not moved farther away from 13 street to create the space for snow mounds without blocking pedestrian access to the sidewalk. If that sidewalk along 13th is to be torn up for CSO work, can it please be moved west to make pedestrian access to the sidewalk safer year-round? And can there please be a sidewalk added to complete the walking/biking trail between “I” Street and 13th Street.
THE ILLEGAL DUMP AREAS ON THE NORTH EDGE OF THE PARK
It is essential that these illegal dump sites be cleared before the park pond project is completed. It only makes fiscal and logistical sense for these areas to be cleaned out while the heavy equipment can be used before plantings, parking and trails are installed. Douglas County is supposed to be in charge of illegal dump sites and hopefully they have been included as a partner in the effort to clear the decades of trash left by careless people.
WATERING PLAN AND MOWING
In the past, the neighborhood association in conjunction with Keep Omaha Beautiful and OPPD did some tree planting in the park. Most of the trees died due to lack of watering. Given the tough weather – wind storms and drought, it will be essential that the replacement trees and shrubs be put on a watering plan that is respected and fulfilled. There are fire hydrants all around the park that could supply the water but the contractors will need to be very careful how they open and shut off the water flow so as to avoid burst pipes such as the incident that happened on 14th and “J” Street two years ago.
You can walk around the trees in the south end of the park now and see the consequences of careless mowing. Trees planted now must be respected by the mowing crews. Those huge mowers may make quick work of mowing a park but the bigger the mower, the more likely the damage to trees. A wider and thicker mulch band around the trees should be possible with all the trees being cut there is a huge amount of mulch that will be available. Can it be used in the park as well?
F STREET BUTTRESSING AND THE SPRING SOUTH OF IT
The messy clear-cut done along “F” Street caused quite a knee-jerk reaction among neighbors and those who use that route. We had been told there would be no work done south of “F” Street until a later phase of the project. We were expecting three water feature “eco-zones” from this pond project. The wetland, the pond and the stream environments which would offer excellent and unique opportunities for public enjoyment and environmental education. It is the very real desire of the park neighbors and visitors that this original concept be followed through as the project moves forward. If there is any engineering magic that can be worked where the stream south of “F” Street can be kept intact, that is the preferred option. IF there is really no other option – after real study has been done and creativity tapped – then please pipe-up only as small a portion of the stream as possible and be sure the ends of the pipe are made to seem to be “natural” and not sewer-like.
In a meeting with John Royster and Ned Tramp, I mentioned that the sidewalk along F street is substandard and that if there are no trees and shrubs to demarcate the edge, then pedestrian safety has to be considered and a fence of some kind should be placed along both sides of F Street. There needs to be some kind preventative measure as well that will ensure the buttress is not used as a trailbike route or as a sledding slope. Any treeless slope is open game for sledding.
Thank you to the design team for protecting the little Eden in the ravine just north and west of F Street. It is a really charming spot and many small birds do use the area for water, food, shelter and nesting material.
SOME QUESTIONS I HAVE BEEN ASKED:
- Can the piers being placed on the pond for fishing include a rounded end and rails with a couple of benches or stools for sitting on and enjoying the pond?
- Will there be wildlife signage for letting people know what birds, critters and water fowl they might see?
- How many cars will be able to park near the pond?
- What ADA access will there be?
- What considerations have been taken for protecting the bat habitat?
- Will there be a boardwalk across the wetland area?
- Is the swimming pool going be open during the pond construction?
- Will there be a sidewalk on both sides of F Street? If not, why not?
- Can there be a wildflower area?
- What kind of picnic areas will there be insight of the pond?
- Will there be a playground area near the pond?
- Will there be an aerator fountain in the pond?
- If the current seeps and streams are buried or under the pond, where will that water go?
- Will there be any lighting around the pond?
- What kind of fish are going to be in the pond?
- How many will a fisherman be able to catch and can he keep the fish to eat?
- Will we need a license to fish in the pond?