Questions and photos were posted to the Riverdale Residents’ Facebook page yesterday (10/30/19) about a half dozen truckloads of dirt and rubble dumped at the back of Bicentennial Park. Residents were asking why the material was dumped there and what the City’s plans were.
After looking into it, this is what I’ve been able to uncover …
Last Thursday (10/24), the City’s maintenance person, George Miller, shared information about a request he received from the contractor doing work for Iowa-American Water. The contractor was asking if the City had need for free fill that they could provide instead of hauling it away. The fill came from the excavation work the contractor was doing for the water main installation along the MRT.
The email, sent to City Administrator Tim Long and City Engineer Chris Cooper read:
Dumping a few dump truck loads (6-10) of spoil from the water main installation on to the back side of Bicentennial Park is ok and does not need any permits due to the fact that it is disturbing less than a acre of ground. The area where it would be dumped is at the edge of the draw just before the old radio tower. Both of the areas are marked in yellow.
You can click on the map to the right and see a full-sized version of the image.
George then went on to send a fuller explanation to City Council Members Anthony Heddlesten and Kelly Krell later on that day. That email reads as follows:
Kelly and Anthony
I spoke with Tim and Chris about letting the contractor dump some of the spoil from the water main installation up at the rear of bicentennial park. The two areas I have highlighted are the spots where I would like to do some fill work. The amount to be dumped would be about 6 dump truck loads. The areas could take over ten times that amount with out any issues.
The area involved is less than 1 acre and no permits should be needed. As a precaution I can put some hay bales across the bottom of the draw but with there being as much vegetation between Manor Dr and the top where they would be dumping I don’t think is should be a problem.
This would save the contractor time and mileage and would help get us a little more usable park space next summer. Nothing to write home about but some space.
I remember seeing George on Thursday as he was walking through all of this with Tim and he told me, that since Kelly’s focus was on Parks & Recreation and Anthony’s was on Public Works, Tim had asked him to keep those Council Members in the loop and ask for their input before proceeding. Judging by the reactions of both Kelly and Anthony on Facebook, they didn’t have an opportunity to respond to George – and things moved ahead, regardless.
When these pictures appeared on the community’s Facebook page, residents started asking questions. Terry Stickler summed up the feelings expressed on the page with the following:
Seems like Bicentennial Park has gone from being a nice park for residents and visitors, to becoming a dumping ground, first for brush and rubble, then for limbs and fallen trees, most felled and just left, and now 10+ big piles of dumped dirt and huge hunks of rock and looks like broken concrete, to say nothing of the ruts in the grass near the dump site. Very disappointing.
Today, I had a chance to speak with George and get some more clarification as to what happened. He explained that he’s been trying to fill in part of the swails behind the old radio tower, and to work on the sandy soil areas where the old ball diamond and volleyball court were located. His plan was to have the fill dropped off near the swail and then to use a Bobcat to push the fill into position and compact it a bit. Then, he would get some truckloads of compost from the Compost Facility in West Davenport and work it into the fill dirt and the sandy-soil parts of the park with a rototiller, preparing it for seed so Bicentennial Park would be a little larger and a little more usable as a result.
What is it that people say about the “road to hell” being paved with good intentions?
This situation demonstrates the need to establish a process for identifying areas of need, formulating a plan, asking for feedback from residents and those affected and then finalizing that plan (including costs) for presentation and review by the City Council. No such process currently exists. And if one does, then people don’t know about it so it’s not being followed.
But know this. We will establish these essential rules and processes and we will follow them in the future.
And we’ll keep residents informed as to how this particular situation is being addressed – weather and conditions permitting.
Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below and we’ll endeavor to provide answers.