Update: Per RPU Board Chair Jerry Williams, this will not be on Tuesday’s agenda.
The “city” is considering a 3.5 million gallon water reservoir at St. Mary’s Park and I have a number of concerns about the process. I don’t like the fact that many neighbors found out about this by reading the newspaper. I don’t like how this process has seemingly played out in private, despite the fact that we own the utility. I don’t like how neighbors have not been asked for comment or ideas. While I currently have a conflicting meeting, I am going to try to head to the RPU board meeting on Tuesday April 24, 2012 to get more information.
Many of you want to know where I stand on the issue. This is a little difficult because even as the councilman for the area I have not been invited to the discussions. My philosophy is that St. Mary’s park is an asset that we own. I will never support any action of which the net result is that the asset is made worse. This was my philosophy when it was suggested that we give away a portion of Soldier’s Field. Not surprisingly no city council members have come out in support of that.
I really don’t know what has been decided, what is planned, and how flexible those decisions are. I don’t know why engineers are suggesting that this would be a good place as opposed to somewhere more on the edge of the city.
There actually are potential ways to put a reservoir in the park and have it be an asset. For example if it was put back in the NW part of the park, partially into the ground, with a green roof, and then filled around the edges, we could create an elevated green space in an underused part of the park with a great picnic area and an iconic view of the city. That would cost more money, but again, hurting a park to save money is not OK in my book.
In speaking with RPU they did say that neighbors were notified of a meeting at CUDE. Apparently neighbors within 500 ft. of the park were sent notices. Also a notice was sent to the neighborhood association. However, a downtown meeting during work hours is not what I consider a sufficient chance for input. [edit: I am told this was at least an evening meeting] There will also be a park board meeting, but again I think the neighborhood deserves to have a meeting in the neighborhood.
I would like to see the existing reservoir removed. I am interested in what the neighborhood thinks about the existing tower. I see it as a historic landmark, and though it is not used (except for cell towers) I wouldn’t mind seeing that stay. I believe the existing reservoir is about 1 million gallons. To visualize how big a 3.5 million gallon tank would be, picture the existing tank, the same height, but 87% wider. (OK math teachers, you can check my math)…
One thing that I can say with absolute certainty is that the more you are involved the better the outcome will be. We had a number of successes on 6th street which would not have happened with out citizen involvement.