Back in 2012 when Swan Pond Park was about to get its much-anticipated makeover, there was quite a bit of optimism about what the results would be. The final product was less than stellar, due in part to some cost cutting and behind-the-scenes wrangling between village officials and the Army Corps of Engineers, which did the work.
A spring flood in 2013 and two winter 2014 floods devastated whatever work had been done. And the village has spent the better part of two years trying to figure out what to do about it.
Last week, the village’s engineering firm came up with several recommendations, including replacing the asphalt walking path and regrading the park to improve drainage. It’s unclear where village officials will be going with those recommendations, but there are a few things we’d like to see considered:
Ditch the asphalt walking path for either a crushed limestone or granite path. Yes, it will be washed away during floods. But it can be easily and inexpensively replaced.
Tear out the concrete drainage culvert. The thing is an eyesore. If there needs to be such a culvert, rebuild in stone to look as natural as possible. And for heaven’s sake, can we finally get a definitive call on whether the drainage pipe is working? Because the amount of water that collects at the base of the culvert sure gives the impression that it’s not working correctly.
Regrade the park to make it possible to walk through it without breaking an ankle.
Possibly expand the native plantings. The plantings that have taken hold in the park are beautiful.
Forget about the park as an active recreation area once and for all. Swan Pond Park is a flood basin. It’s always going to be a flood basin. That doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful, but we need to look at it in that light.
Don’t keep delaying the fixes. This needs to be seriously talked about during the current budget year and placed in the capital improvement budget. The village has cash reserves that can be appropriately used for such infrastructure work. Officials should consider doing so to get this fix done.