Now they say the city approved a different plan that doesn’t address one of their primary concerns, without notifying them of that intent.
“The water plant layout, hastily approved by council, and developed without public notice, is a wrongful approach that will permanently harm the park,” said Seth Freedman, one of the residents’ leading voices.
“This action flies in the face of the overwhelming public sentiment that was repeatedly expressed on the matter, and there are much better options available.”
According to an email from Julie Brechbill, the city’s communications manager, the original concept design placed the water tank behind a neighborhood.
“The large majority of public comments we received during the public input meetings held earlier this year requested the city move the tank away from the neighborhood and back toward the area where the original plant sits today so as not to impact any recreational space,” she said.
Public Works/Environmental Director Stu Moring also said the comments “we heard over and over were to relocate the tank as far from local neighborhoods as possible, and we have done exactly that.
“But other factors that affect the design led to the location that is part of the current concept — concern about the foundation being a primary one, along with constructability on a slope and minimizing impact on recreational operations, specifically the soccer fields.”
The tank site preferred by residents is the recreation and parks department’s operations yard. “That location was considered but it was considerably more expensive and much more disruptive to operations of both the rec and parks department and the water resources division, both during and post construction,” Moring wrote in an email.
But the newly approved design still makes the tank a negative presence, said resident Kendra Cox. “While the new tank location does not ruin an existing ball field or sit in our neighbors’ backyards, it will loom over the park and dominate the landscape. This is exactly the situation we fought to avoid.” The new tank location is more than 30 feet higher than any of the layouts proposed and presented to the public, Freedman said, and will be “prominently visible” in the main public areas of the park.
“The public was never shown or included in the process of selecting, the new tank location,” he said. And no one in the group was notified that the plan approval was going to be on the Oct. 22 city council agenda, he added.
Mayor Jere Wood said he was sorry residents weren’t at that meeting. “If they had come to the meeting or had followed this closely, they would know the tank is not going to be visible from the residential area,” he said.
“It’s only visible if you drive into the city park. The only thing it’s going to loom over is the ball field. We went to great lengths to not intrude on the operation of the recreation department.”