Friday, March 6, 2009

Overton Park Pond?

Longtime activist and Vollintine-Evergreen resident Mary Wilder calls her neighborhood "the kink in the hose."

"We get a lot of flooding. [Lick Creek] makes a 90 degree angle at Auburndale and the water comes flying through there," she says. "Back in August, we had trucks and cars on the street and the water was up to their steering wheels."

"It was a phenomenal amount of rain, I'll give you that, but you're supposed to plan for that."

To mitigate Midtown's storm water problem, the city of Memphis is considering installing a detention basin ... in the middle of Overton Park's greensward.

And that has eyebrows raised with community groups and involved parties.

Lissa Thompson, principal at Ritchie Smith Associates, worked on the Overton Park master plan in the '80s. About a year ago, they were asked for their general reaction to a detention pond in the park.

"We'd like to believe there are alternatives ... because that part of the park is the only free open space for people to play Frisbee or soccer or run around with their dogs," she says. "It's a big park, but most of it is occupied by the forest, the golf course, art institutions, or the zoo."

For instance, the Lick Creek channel in Overton Park was concreted over in recent years, meaning storm water rushed downstream at a higher velocity.

"It could be returned to a more natural channel. That would have enough friction to slow the water down," Thompson says. "We're looking at an irreplaceable amenity. This might be a case where a higher investment is warranted."

Wilder agrees that the city should look to alternatives. Other ideas include a water hazard on the golf course or a number of smaller basins. Wilder is not sure that a large detention basin will even solve her neighborhood's flooding issues.

"We're north of it," she says. "It may not divert it to where it helps us."

VECA is hosting a meeting Wednesday, March 11th, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss possible solutions to flooding, as well as the city's water quality, in general.

Memphis is not alone in facing storm water issues. Some cities have started offering incentives for replacing impermeable surfaces with permeable ones.

"A lot of cities are implementing low-impact measures," Thompson says. "I'd like to think this is a case where Memphis could do something a little more progressive."

Calls to the city have not yet been returned.


Shane said...

I heard a rumor yesterday about a city meeting in May about this very issue. Any truth to that?

There has to be a more desirable alternative to a "pond". The city can't even maintain the concrete pond that already resides in the park.

Deena said...

And how embarrassing is it that the restrooms by the greensward and pond are boarded up, chained up, tagged with graffiti, and the lone port-a- potty is absolutely not an option, overflowing with sewage. To an out of town visitor it makes the city look very bad, along with litter everywhere, etc. etc. etc.

Eric said...

What gets me is the process. The terms "public notice," "citizen input," "charette," and "town hall meeting" are all Greek to the engineering department. Memphis needs to join the 21st century and start incorporating resident perspectives into its planning process.

*** said...

This is a huge step backward and another attempt to continue plundering park assets and amenities. The feasibility study on the Historic structures at the Fairgrounds found that the only place in Midtown with enough foot-traffic (currently) to sustain them would be the Zoo area -- not an option to cut into more Overton Park acreage, so our group is advocating re-investing in the current location by retro-fitting existing historic structures to solar via the Stimulus Bill and Sharp Manufacturing. Any thoughts?

Denise Parkinson
co-founder, Save Libertyland!

sbanbury said...

They need to look at underground retention chambers under the parking lotas at the Turner Dairy, Overton Square's parking lots and maybe under Snowden's playing field or the Cotton Council's lot. This would better address the sources of the stormwater.

Scott Banbury