Warm temperatures combined with a little rain on Tuesday morning threw a monkey wrench into an effort to begin leveling off areas of Swan Pond Park in Riverside, the first step in a plan to restore the park.

A Public Works Department backhoe began trying to skim uneven clumps of earth in the north end of the park at about 8 a.m. on Feb. 21, but after about 10 minutes, it became clear the ground was too soft to continue.

Almost three years ago to the day, on Feb. 25, 2014, the park suffered a second devastating flood, with enormous sheets of ice chewing up the landscape, particularly on the north end where a lawn area had been created in 2012 by the Army Corps of Engineers to help with drainage.

The flooding uprooted a 10-by-30-yard mat of plants placed by the Army Corps at the mouth of a drainage culvert in late 2013 and moved it, while ice chunks gouged the ground, creating uneven mounds of earth that made the area impossible to mow and difficult to walk on.

Last year, the Riverside Landscape Advisory Commission hired a firm to come up with a plan to restore the park, and the Riverside Village Board earmarked $35,000 for the first phase of that plan, which includes leveling out the rough patches, removing unwanted plants, like cattails, that have sprung up in the drainage swale and replacing them with about 20 different species of native wetlands plants that will thrive in the park.

Public Works Director Edward Bailey told the Landmark on Tuesday that the plant plugs have been ordered and will be planted this year, probably in late July or early August to avoid flood-prone seasons.

The operation will be overseen by the Public Works Department, he said, though the village will likely seek volunteers to help with the planting effort.

Prior to Tuesday’s planned leveling off project, the Public Works Department identified the uneven areas on the north end of the park, circling them in white spray paint.

Bailey had figured that February would be a good time to begin skimming the rough spots, since the ground would normally be hard from the cold. However, as the backhoe started working on the first of the uneven spots, it quickly became clear, things were going to have to wait.

“We’ll just keep pecking away at it and keep watching conditions and hopefully reach one where we can get in and not do any more damage,” Bailey said.

Olmsted Society gearing up for
Golden Jubilee

The Frederick Law Olmsted Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary in Riverside in 2018, and to mark the Golden Jubilee the society has announced it will be planting 50 trees during 2017 and 2018 to honor the group’s founder, Robert Heidrich.

On April 29, the first group of trees will be planted in cooperation with the village’s forester in Indian Gardens, which lost dozens of trees in the past couple of years to the emerald ash borer.

The public is invited to grab a shovel and help out at the event, which will take place between 9 a.m. and noon. Tools and snacks will be provided.

For more information, visit www.olmstedsociety.org.

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