11/29/05 Orchard Street Ravine Meeting Sponsored by MoCA and FOStR
(Note: Q means someone from the audience was asking a question and
A is the reply from either the speaker at the moment or from another person.
C means that it was taken as a comment, no direct answer given)
Meeting began with Marta Idowu as facilitator, covering the agenda and goals of the meeting
Cindi (MoCA)gave a short history of the development of the Morgan Junction Neighborhood Plan and the Green Crescent concept.
Carol (resident, FOStR) described how in 1990 neighbors organized to save the ravine from development. The OSR was purchased in 1993 market value, as a win /win between neighbors, property owners and Parks Open Space Program. The area was designated a Natural area by Parks and the 2.2 acres (includes Street Right of way) used to describe the site also includes the area of Street Right of Way.
Kevin (Parks Planner) then gave a recap of the Nov 1 meeting: the city had hoped that the process to select the work to be done would be short and sweet, but it soon became obvious that there were diverging thoughts on the future of the parcel. His summary was that most of the meeting attendees favored just restoration, some wanted to do restoration and then focus on the trail, and a few wanted the trail.
Since that meeting, he’s been told in no uncertain terms that trail access is the language in the levy and trail access is what must be provided. Because this will be a new park, that’s why it has to go to the Park Board, that is done with all new parks. There will be another public meeting on December 13, and the project is scheduled to go to the Parks board on February 9 for approval.
Q What about the use of the Street Right of Way?
A: We will be able to get permits for that use.
Ted Holden (Parks Landscape Architect) then went through all the visual aids for five alternatives that have been developed since the last meeting, One alternative was an internal trail with no connection between streets, and the other four alternatives included some form of trail connection between Orchard Street and 38th Avenue SW. A new trail option was from the upper east dead end of Orchard St. to the cul-de-sac was presented. It was brought to Parks attention by neighbor John Nuler and draw up as Option 3 by Ted . Ted also provided an overview of the topography of the project area. (http://www.friendsoforchardstreetravine.org/Everything he said was summarized on the handout describing the trail options). On the slope analysis map, anything in red is classified by DPD as being too steep to build on (a 6 inch drop for every foot)
Ted noted that all of the funds need to be spent in the year that they are allocated.
Q If we build only the interior trail, will the rest of the money be available for restoration?
A Kevin (Parks Planner)– yes, as best I can tell.
Q What’s the associated restoration for a trail?
A Katie (Parks Urban Forester) The trail would have about 5 feet on either side of it restored. (This makes it a 14 ft wide strip, 4ft for actual trail and 5 ft either side for working space and then restoration)
Q If the site is so steep as to require professional builders, will volunteers really be able to do restoration on the steep slopes?
A No, but don’t forget, that you couldn’t do $50 to $70,000 worth of restoration in the year the levy money needs to be spent (implying that volunteers would have plenty of other work to do before anyone tackled the steep areas)
Q What about funding?
A There is a mix of options available, from the Neighborhood Matching Fund, to sources the Urban Forestry people know about to outside grants.
Q Bill Hibler (resident) asked if Parks is sure their invasive removal costs are correct? “It just cost me $1,500 to remove a small area of ivy.”
A Well, yes, it is expensive, but we use new techniques and groups like Earth Corps to do the work. And the assumed number includes volunteer generated sweat equity.
Q John Nuler (resident) asked, “ What about the spider contraption that Mark Mead talked about to clear just to see what we’re facing, didn’t it cost only something like $3,500?”
A. True, but the major cost comes during planting etc.
Q. Kay Thode (resident) asked, “Why haven’t we seen any feasibility studies done before we got to this point?”
A (not good notes on my part, I believe the answer was a discussion about where we are in the process, that the options needed to be narrowed down and then the geo-tech engineers could do a properly focused feasibility study)
Q I believe Cindi asked, “What problems already exist?”
A There is already a considerable problem with drugs and sex in the cul-de-sac.
C Regarding the 38th St through to Orchard St option, that ignores the lack of pedestrian facilities that would approach the trail. It is very narrow and has no shoulder.
C I don’t know why the lower people don’t deal with the safety issues today.
C There’s no parking (at either end I think was implied)
C Yes, that begs for having a through trail so people can walk to work parties instead of having to drive their cars loaded with tools.
C You’ll never be able to spend $150,000 on restoration in 1 year.
C I live just above, the not-through trail is not one I’d use (meaning the internal trail system). I’d rather see the neighborhood connector and the increased foot traffic might discourage illegal activity.
C It troubles me that we are losing space for the animals
A (Katie?) (Parks Urban Forester) Yes, the elevated stairs look like it would be more beneficial for the wildlife.
Q. But will all the clearing of the underbrush drive the animals out?
A Katie (Parks Urban Forester) - That’s why a phased restoration would be best, to mitigate the impacts. There might be some initial impact to wildlife, but in the long term, clearing and restoring the natural habitat will have a positive affect on the wildlife.
Q When you have been quoting the costs of each option, does that include or not include the design costs?
A The costs include all construction (please check your notes – I’m not sure if I mis-wrote or if the question just wasn’t answered)
C Stewart Wechsler (botanist, ecology consultant) gave an extended comment about the pros and cons of access and impact on wildlife of each option – (I must have been looking through my paperwork and didn’t capture the details) He could see pros and cons for each trail re: animal habitat.
Q Jim Young (resident) - Clarify how you got from the conciliatory language to …”we must spend $175,000 by the end of 2006.”
Q Why is there no conciliatory language like MoCA talks about here in the meeting and why do we HAVE to have a trail?
A. Cindi – gave history of how the levy projects were selected by a separate public process and the one line descriptions captured in the attachment to the Ordinance. However, there have been scope changes on other projects and we need to find out how much flexibility the Parks Dept really has. She said that MoCA was not aware of the funding until they received notice of it .
Q. What about access to the restored area and how would we maintain it? (I think this meant if there was no through trail and there were temporary trails during the restoration period)
A During restoration work, would probably have small access trails during the 5 year restoration period.
Q Paul, who lives on the corner, had suggested eliminating the cul-de-sac, is that possible?
A. No, we don’t think it can be eliminated because of the need for a turn around for garbage trucks, fire trucks and emergency vehicles.
Q Bill Hibler (resident) asked a question that I missed – I think about costs again)
Q. Where will people park their cars that are using the park?
A. The trail system and open space is more intended for local residents rather than as a destination place for people outside of the neighborhood.
Q. Is the money truly required to be spent in 2006?
A. Kevin – the project must be “substantially” completed is the way I have been told.
Comment by Anne Martin (resident): There are currently no pedestrian facilities on either Orchard Street or 38th Avenue SW, so it may not be feasible to encourage pedestrians to a trail system where there are no connections on either side. If a trail is put in, the City should consider putting in a sidewalk on those connecting streets for safety purposes. Another option (if east-west connectivity is an objective) would be to look at putting in pedestrian facilities on other streets where they might provide better connections.
Q Kay Thode questioned the language of the levy – how did only “trails” get into the final document?
(There were probably one or two more questions or comments but I missed them while Carol and I tried to figure out how to end the meeting).
Last thing done was a straw poll to see how people were feeling. There was some objection to this approach, as people did not want to be locked in, and some felt that the audience might be not truly representative of all the views throughout the neighborhood. Carol and Cindi assured people that this was only an indicator of where people currently stood and would not be taken to represent the larger neighborhoods’ opinion, that would probably come at the Dec 13th meeting
Straw Poll Vote:
How many would favor restoration only, with no trail: 8
How many favored
Option 1 (need to renumber these to correspond with the option numbers given by Ted during his talk) which has the longest trail: 0
Option 2 which was a shortening of the original long trail: 0
Option 3 which is the stairway option: 4
Option 4 which is the option proposed by Jon Nuler, down from the OSR right of way at the top: 6
Option 5 internal interpretative trails: 3 some other trail configuration
Didn’t vote: at least 4.
Didn’t take a 2nd vote on just trail options because people were leaving.