Cuyahoga Falls -- City Council on Jan. 28 will vote on a design-build project to restore Kelsey Creek in Kennedy Park partially funded by a state grant of nearly $90,000.

The stream needs to be improved because of an "erosion problem," said Valerie Wax Carr, the city's service director. "We've got grant money," Wax Carr said, adding that work planned will "help with proper drainage channeling."

Kelsey Creek flows through Kennedy Park, under Munroe Falls Avenue and into the Cuyahoga River at Water Works Park, said Rebecca McCleary, the city's public utility customer advocate.

"The velocity and volume of storm water that enters the stream is the cause of degeneration of a healthy functioning stream," said McCleary at the Jan. 22 Council meeting. Streams all over the country are damaged by storm water runoff caused by urbanization, she added. "The streams can't naturally handle it." The water quality has been compromised by storm water, she said.

Nearby Howe Avenue has seen an increase in development over the past 20 years, said city engineer Tony Demasi.

The reach of Kelsey Creek within Kennedy Park eyed for restoration has areas of severe bank erosion, bed instability and channel incision, McCleary said. "These conditions can pose a safety hazard to people who visit Kennedy Park, are aesthetically unpleasant, and limit the biological communities such as beneficial plants and animal species, as well as limit any ecological benefits that would improve the surface water quality," McCleary said.

To help implement the restoration, a grant for $89,877, approximately 50 percent of the construction costs, was awarded to the city by the Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, she said. Designs will cost around $85,000 and construction is going to cost an estimated $130,000, she said. In addition, post-construction monitoring will cost about $35,000, she added. Along with approximately 50 percent of construction, the city is responsible for the costs of engineering and design, including post-construction inspections, monitoring and reporting, she said.

McCleary said more than 1,000 feet of the stream channel will be restored and stabilized, and more than 1,800 feet of stream bank will be restored and planted with species of plants that are beneficial for restoring river bank areas. When the project is completed, the creek will be more resilient to storm flows and velocities.

Proposals have been received, she said, and a final evaluation will be completed before the end of the month. The final design and engineering of the project will be completed by mid-March and construction will start in April. The main construction is expected to be finished by June 30, she said.

McCleary is involved in this project because she typically works with all city departments in the development of projects that have been identified as providing significant environmental and public health improvement benefits, she told the Falls News-Press in an email, particularly if the projects involve the public -- both residents and businesses -- education and public awareness.

"Projects such as this can often qualify for grant funding, particularly if the project can be timed appropriately and the technical and biological aspects can be measured and proven," she said in the email. "I did develop the Surface Water Improvement Fund grant proposal for this restoration project and will be closely overseeing the implementation as part of the project team which includes our Service Director, our City Engineer's office, our Water Utilities Department, and our Parks and Rec Department."

During the meeting, Councilman Jerry James (D-7) asked how stream contamination from lawn insecticides from nearby homes and golf courses can be slowed down. McCleary said a variety of shrubs and trees native to Ohio will be planted to stabilize the banks and filter out contaminants.

James commended the city on the proposed project in Kennedy Park. "This will be a park we can be proud of," he said. "Right now it's kind of an eyesore I'm excited about it."


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