It hasn’t exactly been like lightning, but the village of Riverside sometime next month may have in its hands a plan forward for Swan Pond Park. Earlier this month, the village’s Landscape Advisory Commission chose a firm called Living Habitats to come up with a planting and maintenance plan for the part of the park that has essentially become a wetlands area since it was regraded by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2012.
After a record-setting flood in the spring of 2013 and two destructive flood events in January and February of 2014, Swan Pond Park was looking pretty shabby.
The landscape, while still very uneven in the northern end of the park that sustained the most flood damage, has softened somewhat in the past two years. Plants left behind by the Army Corps – and physically moved to a different location during the winter floods – have filled in and give an idea of how Swan Pond Park can look if the village puts a little effort into reversing some of the flood effects.
Living Habitats’ planting plan, which is supposed to more closely adhere to guidelines for Riverside set out by the village’s designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, won’t just include “native” plants. Attention will be paid to type, color and arrangement. The consulting firm is also tasked with a maintenance plan so that the wetlands area just doesn’t become a tangle of invasive species as the years roll by.
It’s not clear what all of this is going to cost to install in the first place and maintain annually, but since the plan is not to do significant earth moving or other significant alterations, it ought to be manageable.
That’ll still leave an ugly concrete culvert in the park, though plantings have begun to obscure it, mercifully. It also leaves in place an asphalt walking path that’s neither Olmstedian nor adequate if two people want to walk side by side.
But there appears to be little enthusiasm right now for tearing up the path and replacing it with something else. That likely would come with a pretty hefty price tag. It looks like the path is going to be there until it crumbles to a point where it’s a hazard. There also doesn’t appear to be a lot of enthusiasm for repairing the asphalt on a regular basis, and we can’t fault the village board for such a policy, given the general dissatisfaction with it.
The selection of a firm to create a new, truly Riverside-oriented landscape plan for Swan Pond Park is a positive step in the direction of recapturing the park’s central importance to the village.
We look forward to the new plan and to the village’s commitment to maintain that plan and make other improvements that will complement it in the years ahead.