On Monday, representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers and contractors the agency used in the Swan Pond Park re-grading project met with Riverside officials to view the damage done by serious flooding last winter.
But the Army Corps offered no assurances that it would be helping the village repair the damage, saying it needed some time to assess who is responsible for funding any fixes.
It took months just for the Army Corps to come out and see what occurred in January and February. But Village Manager Peter Scalera said the village isn’t about to wait several more months for an answer to that question.
“We stressed urgency because we cannot continue to have the area looking the way it does now,’ said Scalera, adding that he expects some sort of answer from the Army Corps of Engineers by the end of the week.
Jeff Zuercher, the Army Corps project manager for the Riverside work, told the Landmark on Tuesday there’s no timetable for getting a plan of action back to the village.
“Until we really sit down with the construction folks, it’s an unknown at this point,” said Zuercher.
Zuercher attended Monday’s meeting along with a horticulturist from the Army Corps and a representative from the general contractor and landscape contractor the Corps used to complete the earth-moving and planting work in the park.
The group surveyed the park, in particular the low area in the north part of the park that was created to divert storm runoff into a drainage culvert that leads to the river.
Flood waters carrying enormous sheets of ice through the park in February picked up and moved a roughly 10-by-30-foot mat of natural plantings that had been placed at the mouth of the culvert.
“We were surprised to see the native planting bed was picked up and moved,” said Zuercher. “It was something none of us had ever seen before.”
The removal of the mat, along with large sections of earth altered the area in front of the culvert, making it lower than the culvert itself. As a result, water draining to the area after substantial rains simply pools in front of the culvert.
Asked how long the village is prepared to wait to begin repairing the damage to the park, Scalera indicated that he wanted work to begin this summer.
“It will be addressed,” Scalera said. “The village has been working hard to get it addressed quickly and to determine who will be responsible for picking up the bill for it. But ultimately, the village will do what’s best for the community.”
Who will pay for the work is unclear at this time. Zuercher said the Army Corps considers what happened an “act of God” outside the scope of the maintenance contract. Asked who would be footing the bill for the fix, Zuercher said he wasn’t sure.
“At this point we don’t have an answer for that,” Zuercher said. “It’s unclear whose responsibility it is and where that bill will fall.”
In the meantime, Public Works Director Edward Bailey said he will assign workers to Swan Pond Park this week to finish clearing out debris that remains, including large tree trunks, branches and a railroad tie.
But until the water recedes, it will be difficult to get mowing equipment in the area immediately surrounding the low area where grass and weeds are now about 3 feet tall.
The village has hired Riverside-based Andersen Construction to repair sections of the stone wall that borders the river on the south end of the park. Stone blocks that formed the top of the wall were displaced when water behind ice jams in the river surged into the park at that location. Several trees were also damaged.