(UPDATE June 5, 2017) Crews this morning began draining the pond in southwest Cedar Rapids. The process could take a full day.
One person was hoping to catch some of the bluegills and other fish that would otherwise be buried to stock his pond in Amana.
City officials directed questions about the detention basin – with a price tag of $287,775 – to Project Administrator Patrick Wieneke, who is out of the office for the week.
Neighbor Frank Kubovec said he was surprised that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or other agencies did not appear to have more oversight of the project, given the bats, eagles and other wildlife in the area.
“They could have done a lot of different things,” he said of the city’s plans for the nearly 1-acre pond and surrounding land that was previously forested. “It’s a shame to see this.”
Sara Baughman, communications coordinator for Cedar Rapids Utilities, sent the following response this afternoon:
“We’ve received citizen concerns regarding a regional detention basin project located west of 18th Street SW, directly east of Hughes Drive SW. This property was acquired by the City in 1999 for stormwater management and is needed to collect stormwater runoff from 94 acres upstream. The project will reduce stormwater runoff impacts to downstream properties along Rockford Road SW and 3rd Avenue SW.
Throughout the planning and design process, City staff worked with neighbors and met with residents several times; the most recent public meeting was held in March of 2016 to share design plans with residents closest to the project area. An invitation was sent to 21 addresses and 9 individuals attended that meeting. These design plans were developed with strict oversight from the Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Because wetland north of the pond will be disrupted by this project, an area in Seminole Valley Park will be used as a wetland to minimize the environmental impact. In regards to the fish in the pond, the IDNR will not allow the fish to be moved due to disease risk and required on-site burial. Native grasses and wildflowers will be planted within the basin and 30 trees will be planted around the basin.
The public hearing for the project was held on January 24, 2017 and bids were received on February 1, 2017. No public objections were filed.”
By Cindy Hadish
CEDAR RAPIDS – Fish, frogs and other aquatic life will be buried alive under plans to remove a tree-lined pond that residents have enjoyed for decades in southwest Cedar Rapids.
“We’ve already shed some tears over this,” said Nick Maybanks, who taught his daughters how to fish in the pond, between Balsam Drive and 18th Street SW.
Related: City continues string of tree removals
The land is owned by the city, which is removing the pond and numerous trees to create a detention basin.
Neighbors who live near the area, which they describe as a nature “oasis,” said the pond has been there for more than two decades, with the surrounding land serving as a haven for monarch butterflies, turkeys, hawks, owls, deer and other wildlife.
Already, 100 or so trees have been removed in recent days alone, Maybanks estimated.
He pointed to an empty spot where a mature tree once stood, where he and his daughters used to swing from a vine. The tree is gone, as is an entire swath of trees that extended from near the pond to 18th Street.
Neighbors said teenage boys would spend afternoons fishing at the pond, away from their electronics, to simply enjoy the outdoors.
Laurie Church said she enjoyed bringing her two grandsons to the pond since moving to the neighborhood in 2015.
“I was hoping we could do that again this summer,” Church said. “It just makes me really sad.”
Maybanks said an excavating company representative told him the pond would be drained and fish buried there this Monday, June 5.
He added that it appears the detention basin is needed because of development on Shady Grove Road SW, where homes are being constructed. Neighbors say natural springs abound in the area.
Maybanks and others in the neighborhood questioned why the pond and mature trees, which both retain water, would be removed to create a detention basin.
City officials could not be reached this weekend for comment.
Related: Removing the “green” from Greene Square Park
Dragonflies hovered over the pond, birds swooped nearby and frogs could be heard calling this weekend as neighbors visited one last time.
“It just seems short-sighted,” Maybanks said, wondering where the nesting birds and other wildlife would go. “When you take away a place like this, it’s gone forever.”
Related: Cedar Rapids man forced to remove garden
Such a lovely place, Cindy, as seen through your words and photos. Truly incomprehensible why the city would remove this for a detention basin. Feel sorry for the neighbors. It’d be interesting to hear what the city forester or someone in development would have to say. Sad to see it go, apparently for no good reason other than to comply w/restrictions on new development. Federal restriction? State? County? City?
Thank you for your note, Linda. The neighbors are wondering the same.
If it already holds water what more could it do as a retention hole?
That’s the question everyone wants answered!
I agree. I live only a few blocks away and what is a pond of not a water retention area? Makes no sense but obviously someone was promised a contract…..
The city official’s aren’t the sharpest knifes in the drawer.
Exactally why we need to vote them otta there and intelligent non-greedy people in!!
Robin and Cindy I agree with both of your comments.
I want to see this place. Where is it please?
Balsam Drive is off of Wilson Avenue SW and the pond is between Balsam and 18th Street SW. If you drive almost to the end of Balsam, just before the new construction, walk to the right and you’ll find the pond.
If you can’t mow along roadways until July 15th to help save baby wildlife and pollinators, etc then why is it ok to destroy this area this same time of year? Now is when turkeys have their young and this area has turkeys and also monarchs on the milkweed. Doesn’t make sense.
This! This is the kind of reasoning that I decided cedar rapids was no place to raise my family. I am so thankful over the last several years (from all the reports I’ve watched as things continue to get worse there) that I took the chance and left for a better place. I love my new home, please keep all that big city-ness far away.
man – the most invasive of species.
From what I understand, developers usually have to allow for water retention areas within new developments themselves. It is especially hard to get permission to remove wetlands. This smells of money. How did the developer get this deal accomplished? Who do they know? Who works for them or their subcontractors? If there isn’t a connection somewhere, the City representatives are sadly incompetent.
Thank you for your work on this, Cindy. 21 residents were invited to a meeting to discuss this? 21? That’s ridiculous.
This still doesn’t answer why removing the pond or hundreds of trees was necessary. How does removing hundreds of trees help achieve the goal of less run-off? And why does every other city worth its salt require developers put in attractive drainage basins, but CR clear cuts nature & digs huge ditches? Most new developments have walking paths around stocked ponds with fountains. We get clear cut feilds dug out and rendered unsuitable for enjoyment. Why isn’t Jerry’s homes required to ante-up? This is happening to support their business’s development. This is a corporate handout.
And why isn’t there an environmental mitigation plan? Simply killing all the wildlife is not ok.
This whole thing stinks.
Thank you for the follow up, Cindy. The various statements provided by city officials regarding our oasis appear contradictory, woefully inadequate and shortsighted. The contractors on the ground will just simply flat out tell you that it’s because of the nearby development that this is happening. The City is dancing around it. As an area resident impacted by this project, I did not make the cut of the meager 21 people who were advised of it. Lurking behind the official’s statement about the nine people that did show up is the fact that those nine people did not want to see this project happen the way that it did. That was not a meeting to seek input; it was a meeting to tell residents what was going to happen. The cities lack of vision, lack of including any significant public discussion on it and woefully inadequate notice to those that might want to object demonstrates that the real motivation here was to act quickly to allow for further residential developments in the neighborhood. All of the citizens of Cedar Rapids lost out on a great opportunity to maintain the natural beauty of this habitat, possibly turn it into a recreational area or at least consider a use of the land that would achieve their objectives as well as allowing the city residents to continue to enjoy it as a recreational area.
Infuriating. Bulldozing bass, catfish and frogs. Cutting down 100 trees.
“They paved paradise. Put up a parking lot.”