30 March 2015

Informational Meeting Held at Spring Lake Park

With completion in sight, neighborhood residents and others are looking forward to a community setting of park green spaces, improved public access, woodland, wetlands and especially a new 1.5 acre pond at Spring Lake Park in south Omaha.

"This effort is a monument to the people that have worked on this project through the years," said Janet Bonet, president of the Spring Lake Neighborhood Association. She noted that initial efforts began in the 1980s, and that many people involved during those first years are no longer alive. The park will be a place for new generations, she said.

Work on CSO! project features will begin within Spring Lake Park in the next week or two. The biggest project will be excavation of about 25,000 cubic yards of dirt to create the pond, which will be 15-20 deep and stocked for fishing. A 21-vehicle parking lot with a bioretention garden will be placed west of the north end of the pond. The old combined line through the lowland north of F Street will either be removed or suitably abandoned.

Work is already underway on provided the drainage tube under F Street for the pond. Progress of the boring has been hindered some by a historically constructed structure which was buried within the embankment.

Other attendees asked questions and made suggestions. One idea was to get project participants to cooperate on a "final cleanup" to remove all the tires and trash before the park reopens, following the completion of the current construction phase.

Once the public can reuse the park, we "need to have a community effort to keep trash and tires out," Bonet said, and "build ownership of being good stewards of the park and its neighbor."

Soon, the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department and the project construction company will be posting regulatory signs to indicate it is illegal to enter portions of the park where work is underway. Rather than closing the entire park, a suggestion was made to mark only particular areas (i.e., with something like "Construction Area - Keep Out" rather than the more exclusive "Park Closed" signage as was mentioned by officials), so other sections of the park can continue to be visited. The second option was affirmed by members of the audience.

Officials associated with the project provided these details and others - including an update on street closures including the status of now closed southern extent of Spring Lake Drive - at an informational meeting at the clubhouse of the park golf course on Saturday morning, March 28th. Besides about twenty community members, also present were representatives from the community outreach organization, the contractor Roloff Construction, the project design company (HDR) and Omaha Public Works. Following the inside gathering, about a dozen people took advantage of an outside view of the project from F Street, south of where the pond will be built.

Work is beginning in the park since sanitary line construction has been mostly completed in the adjacent neighborhoods, construction officials said. This work included the construction of five below-street features that will capture grit, trash and other debris from the streets, before it can wash into the park. These containment structures will be periodically cleared out by Public Works.

As part of the project, about 4300 pounds of illegally discarded tires were hauled away within the past couple of weeks, after having been gathered during the previous months. Several other sites which have been long-term piles of discarded material on private property at the park's western fringe have also been cleaned up.

A bid for the initial landscaping efforts is expected to be selected in later April by the city of Omaha. Plans are to plant a variety of trees, perennials and ground cover, and wetland plants at outlying parks and a southern portion of Spring Lake Park. The majority of plantings within the park will occur in 2016.

Construction of this Phase One portion of the CSO! project will be completed by autumn 2015, or early in 2016. Phase Two is expected to then begin in 2018, with an initial public meeting in the autumn of 2015.

Tree Plantings 2015

These are the deciduous (14 species), understory (four species) and coniferous (four species) trees to be planted in 2015, according to the preliminary plan issued by Public Works:

  • Spring Lake Drive in the southern extent of Spring Lake Park (34 deciduous trees): northern red oak, American sentry linden, shingle oak, accolade elm, prairie pride hackberry, triumph elm, bur oak, kentucky coffeetree and thornless honeylocust
  • Twenty-third Street and Interstate 80 right-of-way (seven trees): northern red oak, bur oak, chinkapin oak and black hills spruce
  • J Street and 12th Street (one tree): bur oak
  • Missouri Avenue to Gibson Road (53 trees and 32 understory on the east side of 13th Street): swamp white oak, northern red oak, tulip tree, American sentry linden, shademaster honey locust, chinkapin oak, triumph elm, shingle oak, eastern redbud, autumn brilliance serviceberry
  • Rudy Novacek Memorial Garden (five deciduous trees and six understory trees): triumph elm, goldenrain tree, Japanese tree lilac, autumn brilliance serviceberry
  • Bob Campos Soccer Complex at 33rd and Q Street (17 coniferous and deciduous trees and eleven understory trees): bur oak, tuliptree, accolade elm, black hills spruce, autumn brilliance serviceberry, eastern redbud
  • James F. Lynch Park at 21st and Martha Street (53 deciduous and coniferous trees and six understory trees): northern catalpa, swamp white oak, tulip tree, northern red oak, prairie titan kentucky coffeetree, American sentry linden, shademaster honeylocust, concolor fir, norway spruce, douglas fir, black hills spruce, eastern redbud, autumn brilliance serviceberry, Japanese tree lilac
  • Spring Lake Park golf course (31 total trees): shademaster honeylocust, tulip tree, American sycamore (five), American sentry linden, norway spruce, concolor fir, black hills spruce (four), autumn brilliance serviceberry and eastern redbud

Bird Variety

There were sixteen species of birds noted during a pre-meeting jaunt among the north F Street portion of the park. Most notable were the many male Northern Cardinals - vivid in their bright red plumage - and a single Brown Creeper and the vibrant song of a Carolina Wren.