We need your input on Riverdale’s parks and trails

We need your input on Riverdale’s parks and trails

Riverdale needs to hear from residents about what they feel is needed when it comes to parks, trails and wild spaces owned and cared for by the City. For the past few months, an ad hoc group of residents have been working with Council Member Anthony Heddlesten and representatives from MSA Professional Services to conduct a comprehensive review of the natural assets of the community.

A survey has been developed to collect the thoughts of residents on how the City should use its natural assets and further develop the parks and trails in the City. MSA has prepared an overview of the project that explains the processes used and the long-term vision and goals the process is intended to define.

The hope is that the City and MSA will be able to conduct a virtual community input session sometime this summer. The public’s participation in the survey is necessary, though, to make sure that input session is worthwhile.

Please click here to take the survey right now.

SCC Master Plan moves ahead in March

SCC Master Plan moves ahead in March

At the March 10 meeting of the Riverdale City Council, Council Member Doug Littrel and resident Steve Townsend, shared their impressions of attending the master plan workshop open house held by Scott Community College.

Conversations focused on how the wooded area behind the current college campus should be developed to be “environmentally friendly” but also provide space for quiet enjoyment and learning. Participants in the workshop included SCC president, Lyn Cochran, Bi-State president Denise Bulat and others from throughout the region.

(NOTE: Riverdale residents were asked to participate in the workshop as well. SCC is located in Riverdale and the college and City have been discussing the importance of coordinating their various parks, storm water and development plans so they will compliment each other.)

Steve reported that conversations were held on a variety of topics including the development of ponds and wetlands on the site, walking trails and paths, sports activities, eliminating invasive species and establishing native prairie grasses on the site. Doug added that conversations he attended included the discussion of bike trails and mountain biking facilities.

Future meetings are planned. We’ll make sure residents know so they can participate.

Parks planning kick-off meeting generates a few new ideas.

Parks planning kick-off meeting generates a few new ideas.

A lightly attended public information meeting regarding the future of the City’s parks still managed to come up with a few great suggestions in advance of the more formal process slated to start in January.

The meeting, chaired by Council Member Kelly Krell, invited citizens to give input on what they thought were priorities for Riverdale’s parks going forward. Here are a summary of the suggestions provided:

•  Playground equipment in Bicentennial Park and Peggy’s Park needs to be re-evaluated and upgraded. Given the cost of playground equipment, it probably makes sense to just add one or two pieces a year and work towards continually improving the parks’ playground features.

•  Trees in all the parks and the city-owned green spaces need to be groomed, maintained and in the cases where we have dead trees, removed.  Some of the dead limbs and trees near Bicentennial Park pose a hazard and should be addressed soon.*

•  There is still a lot of barbed wire along the old Welch Farm fence lines. That should probably be removed.

•  Could we install a campfire ring in Bicentennial Park? Would that pose an attractive nuisance or is there a way it could be managed to cut down on the possibility of vandalism or vagrants taking over?

•  There seem to be two kinds of park enhancements that can be made: passive and active.

Passive improvements would allow individuals to use them at their leisure and in the way they want, Examples would be more walking paths, exercise equipment along the paths, public wi-fi (limited access), more plantings, playground upgrades.

Active improvements would require the City to provide some kind of programming or on-going management to maximize their use. Examples would include a swimming pool, an amphitheater, tennis or pickleball courts, etc.

•  Tree plantings should focus on harder wood trees that take longer to grow, but last longer. Many of the trees in Riverdale’s wild places are only 60-100 years old and are approaching the end of their mature life.

•  We need to plant more grass seed on Manor Drive Hill and keep that community entrance better maintained.

•  The trees around City Hall need to be removed and new landscaping needs to be put in.

•  Riverdale should coordinate its parks planning process with EICC and PVCSD as they develop a plan to turn the forested area between the college and Belmont Road into a wetland with walking trails, etc.

• Could we find a way to use the retention basins in Woods Estates (and the possible basin near the NW corner of Riverdale) and connect those features with a wooded walking path?

• How can we better utilize the standing woods owned by the City (where the old Boy Scout trail used to run and other areas)? Can that be integrated into our plan?

•  We need to make sure we address the invasive species in these locations as we work on planting/landscaping areas.

* NOTE: The City Council did approve to do some significant work removing dead wood and pruning trees in both Bicentennial and Peggy’s Parks at the last council meeting. For more information on what kind of work will be done, click here.

Dean and Judy Hiles send in their thoughts

Circle Drive residents, Dean and Judy Hiles, were out of town and unable to attend in person, but they did send in their thoughts in an email. In their email, the HIles’ underscored the importance of involving volunteers but not relying on them to do all the work (among other things).

Dear Committee,

Our city parks are one of the attractions of our neighborhoods.  They provide a place for our children and grandchildren to play, a place for our community to gather, a place for families to gather for parties and picnics and for those who enjoy walking among nature, a place to go.  They are only attractions however, if kept free of litter and other refuse and weeds.  Respectfully, we offer the following suggestions:

• Attempt to make the landscaping functional as well as easy to maintain.  Plantings should be considered that will thrive and grow when placed in appropriate areas – sunny versus shady – and grow with minimal care.  Routine cleaning in spring, some maintenance 2 or 3 times during the growing season should be all that is required.   We think that we now have 5 parks that require attention to help Riverdale appear that we care to others.

• Find members for your committee who know something about plants and can tell the difference between a weed and a flower and are willing to maintain weed control without the use of herbicides that pretty much kill everything that grows.

• Establish a budget line item within the City Budget which allows for the maintenance of our many parks by a private contractor.  This would include cleanup in spring, mulching on an annual basis, and maintenance during the growing season of plantings as well as replacement of plantings that did not survive.  Also included should be a time of deer protection for plants for the winter months and sometimes during the growing season.  Let’s try to keep this on a professional level instead of relying on citizens to do these jobs as many do not have the time or the physical strength to do what is required.

• Think of the possibility of having a landscape plan drawn up by one of our local nurseries which can be done for a minimal price.  Local Master Gardner’s could also be very useful in this area and since they are required to provide so many hours yearly to the communities they live in would be able to contribute their knowledge.

Please try to remember, especially in timbered areas that there are many wild flowers if left undisturbed that will spread and bloom more every year. 

There are also native food plants such as mulberry trees and black raspberry, and May apple plants that if left undisturbed will multiply and produce fruit for wildlife and if an individual is lucky enough, a person who gets to pick a few berries to eat.  There are also 3 redbud trees which have been marked with pink tape at the edge of Bicentennial Park.  There is a Mountain Ash tree that given a little care could flourish.  There is a forsythia bush on one of the timbered hills in that park and a lilac stump at the edge near the front of that park  that if left alone might regrow and provide flowers in the spring. 

There are remnants of a walking path, made by an Eagle Scout for his community project, from Bicentennial Park’s southern area thru the timbered area that leads downhill to City Hall and used to be part of the running trail during the 4th of July.  Possibly that could be re-established for those who like to walk in the park.   

For reference to these area, many older residents would be more than willing and  able to show to you.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
– Dean and Judy Hiles

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section, below.

Parks long-range planning meeting set for December 16th.

Parks long-range planning meeting set for December 16th.

A public intake meeting for residents interested in the long-term future of the City’s parks has been scheduled for Monday, December 16th at 7pm. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall.

The tentative agenda for the meeting includes:

  1. Welcome
  2. Review/Approval of Agenda
  3. Mayor’s Overview of the Goals of the Long-Range Planning Process
  4. Public Input Regarding Long-Range Parks Planning
  5. Adjournment

A printed copy of the preliminary agenda can be found here.

So, what do you think our parks need?

Let us know in the comment section below what you think the parks in Riverdale need. We want to include as many voices in this process as possible.