Thursday, March 12, 2009

City Considering Other Options for Overton Park

Or, VECA Meeting Licks Creek Idea ... though it hasn't. Yet.

Last night, city engineer Wain Gaskins told VECA members and citizens concerned about a detention basin in Overton Park that the city was evaluating other alternatives. The proposed basin is to alleviate flooding in nearby Midtown neighborhoods.

However, Gaskins also said that people had several misconceptions about the detention basin. For instance, it "doesn't collect debris the way some people think it does." And that the Overton Park greensward already has an 18-foot elevation difference.

He also noted that Second Presbyterian Church's soccer field is a detention basin and they haven't had any problems with it.

Residents at the meeting were not convinced by his assurances.

One asked about the depth of the Second Pres. basin. Gaskins replied it was three to four feet. Another detention basin at CBU is going to be six to eight feet deep.

Another resident asked whether the field would just slope down to the 18 feet or if it would be an 18 feet deep bowl.

"We do have to shape some sort of bowl to detain the water. However, it's a huge bowl. It's so large you might not even notice it being a bowl," Gaskins said.

Judging from its reaction, the crowd was pretty sure they would still notice it.

The city is still in the planning process for the basin, and both VECA and Park Friends, Overton Park's advocacy group, have asked to be involved. The proposal would have to be approved by the City Council before it would be implemented.

Councilmembers Jim Strickland and Myron Lowery both attended the meeting.

Before Gaskins and other representatives of the city spoke about the project, Sierra Club representative James Baker said the proposed detention basin in Overton Park did nothing to create or reinvest in the public realm or solve the underlying problem of storm water.

"At best, it's a bandage that covers a festering wound," he said, "not anything that heals it."

UPDATE, of sorts — Two things I forgot yesterday: Gaskins said the city was looking at alternatives on the Overton Park golf course, and I wanted to give a shout out to the lovely folks at CPOP for giving me the heads up on this.

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