VALPARAISO | While most residents agree the Chautauqua Park flood relief project is much needed, several who spoke at a public meeting Monday opposed Valparaiso's plan to remove trees for a proposed detention pond.
About 25 residents gathered at Memorial Elementary School to learn details of the project, which already is underway.
The Chautauqua Park neighborhood is bounded by Yellowstone, Lincolnway, Campbell Street and the Canadian National Railroad tracks.
In 2009, it was identified as the city’s highest priority drainage project. Plans were developed and the project was broken into two separate phases to be constructed over a period of two years.
Project A on the north end of the neighborhood is currently under construction. Project B on the south end of the subdivision, in areas near Memorial Elementary School, will begin in summer 2014.
Several residents said they opposed the city's plans to remove the old cottonwood and burr oak trees that stand at the proposed site for the Project B detention pond along Ind. 130 on the west side of Valparaiso.
Walt Breitinger, who owns the former Valparaiso Technical Institute near the proposed pond, urged the city to consider other options.
“I'm not convinced that cutting down those trees is the way to go,” Breitinger said.
Several residents said the trees offered a beautiful view to people entering Valparaiso from the west side.
City Engineer Tim Burkman and Deputy Engineer Adam McAlpine assured residents they had explored other areas for the pond, but none were feasible.
“We've looked at multiple options. If there was a better one, we'd be doing it,” Burkman said.
Burkman said they plan to minimize the footprint of the basin and preserve as many trees as possible. New trees also will be planted, he said.
In his update of the project, McAlpine said the general contractor, G.E. Marshall, is making good progress and hopes to have the $2.88 million Project A completed by the end of December.
Burkman also provided an update of the Safe Route to Schools project, which calls for sidewalks to be installed near Parkview, Cooks Corners and Memorial elementary schools.
Parkview's sidewalks were completed in 2010, and work is under way on sidewalks near Cooks Corners. About 4,100 feet of sidewalks will be installed around Memorial in 2015, after the drainage project is complete, Burkman said.
More information about the Chautauqua Park project is online at www.ci.valparaiso.in.us.