No large-scale fixes to Swan Pond Park proper will be made this year after all, Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera confirmed last week. The park, which was ravaged by ice flows during flooding on two occasions last winter, largely has sat unusable all year.
While the village’s engineering firm, Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd., has been tasked with coming up with a plan for removing a displaced mat of native plants and regrading a portion of the park, that work has not been finished yet.
Burke Engineering has been wrapped up designing a major streetscape makeover for East Burlington Street in downtown Riverside, and that project has taken precedence this summer.
“To be honest, we’re in a standstill [on Swan Pond] because most of the attention has been on Burlington Street,” Scalera said. “There’s not going to be any work that we can do that will take place this year. We’ll probably get started in spring of next year.”
While the regrading and mat removal work will have to wait, work has been work accomplished this summer. A section of the stone retaining wall along the riverbank near the former site of the Fairbank Dam has been rebuilt by the village. In addition, workers added another course of stone, making the wall about 6 inches higher in that area.
While that might not seem like a lot, Riverside Public Works Director Edward Bailey called the additional wall height “a difference maker.”
“The last time the park flooded, some pieces of that wall were missing,” said Bailey. “But for those pieces being missing, it wouldn’t have flooded.”
Bailey estimated that public works employees removed about 10 cubic yards of debris, much of it tree branches, tree trunks and garbage carried into the park during the flooding.
Crews also began mowing most areas of the park to tame what during early summer began to look like a wild prairie. But the area around what is now the lowest point of the park — the area funneling toward a concrete culvert installed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2012 — still has an ungroomed aspect.
Huge clods of earth scraped from the park floor and moved around during the flooding, as well as that 10-by-30-yard displaced mat of native plants, has made mowing impossible there. Just walking through the area can be hazardous.
Riverside this year also removed 30 ash trees from Swan Pond Park. Those losses were offset somewhat this spring by the planting of 19 black willow trees, courtesy of a donation by Riverside resident Donald Spatny, a virulent critic if the Army Corps’ work in Swan Pond.
Village Forester Michael Collins said several oak trees, damaged during the flooding last winter, appear to be recovering.And while Collins said he’s open to planting more trees in the park, there are a number of smaller trees in place already that will eventually replace those lost over the past few years.
“If you look, there are a lot of swamp oaks and hackberries chomping at the bit to take over,” Collins said.
One major bit of work that is still expected to get completed this year is repairing an eroded section of riverbank surrounding a drainage pipe that leads from the concrete culvert to the river.
During the winter flooding, the riverbank in that area was washed out significantly. The Army Corps of Engineers agreed to repair the erosion.
Scalera said he’s had no word from the Army Corps on when that work might be completed.
However, Jeff Zuercher, a project manager with the Army Corps, told the Landmark last week that the plan is to do that work this year.