This is in response to Molly Gray’s recent editorial accusing me of nothing but sound and fury with my concern about the current approach being waged in behalf of Hitchcock Woods’ erosion. I want to thank Molly for elevating my periodic musings promoting prudent expenditures of public funds to Shakespearian status. I can assure her that I am not attacking anyone’s plans because there are no plans. Before any plans can be created all parties contributing to the problem must be at the table. What I am attempting to do is to inject reasonable thinking into this equation that can contribute to progress.
Molly wonders if I ever observed first hand the Sand River erosion and experienced a burst of sadness at the devastating sight. I can assure all that I appreciate the woods and have used it, over the years, as both a pedestrian and an equestrian. Yes, I have observed Sand River but rather than experiencing a burst of sadness I found myself in awe of nature’s dynamics in changing the landscape while feeling thankful appreciation of the vast area of the well-maintained woods available to the few that actually use it.
Since my last article on this subject I have had the opportunity to review the latest study on this subject. The salient points I learned are:
• The stated near goal for future work appears to be “Achieving stormwater management back to pre-development land use conditions for a two-year storm."
• A minimum of $25 million is required to achieve that near term result.
• Another 50 percent increase in storage capacity would be required to accommodate a 10-year storm which appears to be another goal. Neither design nor estimate is given to accommodate this goal.
• With the ever increasing severity of storms, it is likely that neither the two-year or 10-year storm design criteria will provide adequate comfort to comply with the overall goal to return to pre-development conditions.
• Pre-development conditions are not defined. This tells me there is no end in sight for this issue.
• No information is provided to address future damage to existing usable woods areas if no additional amelioration work is done.
• There is discussion about Sand River stabilization and restoration in the report. No design or estimates are provided.
Cost to satisfy pre-development conditions could end up being $100 million. I see no evidence that there is agreement on what success looks like. I do not see everyone with financial responsibility for this issue at the table. Until these two conditions exist there can be no plan. The City has already wasted considerable funds on this issue with minimal results. I urge no future City funds be allocated until there is an agreed plan and all participants are financially committed to that plan.
At my age, I find it flattering to be accused of sound and fury.
“The lady protests too much. Me thinks!”
Ronald L. Feller