Monday, December 1, 2008

Cemetery Park plan unveiled

On the evening of Nov 19, 2008, the City of Ventura Parks Commission presented the plans for Cemetery Park. The room at the Presbyterian Church was packed with residents. As with most issues these days, the community is divided almost evenly - in this case between those with relatives buried in the cemetery, and those whose dogs now play in the park. (News stories here and here)

Most troubling was the presentation by the consultant, who in trying to please everyone seemed to please nobody except the Parks Commission.

In keeping with the memorial theme, and in an attempt to include 'stormwater,' the consultant included a garden design. This includes a riparian area, which the presenter said is intended to pay respect to the historic creeks (which have also been buried under urban concrete.) The design includes sycamore trees as a symbol of this lost riparian ecosystem. (These trees grow to over 100 feet in the riverbeds of Ventura County, and if watered as required, they would soon outgrow this small garden on the hillside of Ventura.)

In my comments I reminded the Parks Commission that the city is using drinking water to irrigate grassy lawns (and sycamore trees) while stormwater is flushed away in concrete storm drains. Our Urban Watershed Plan illustrated how Cemetery Park could fit into a stormwater strategy to capture and reuse rain water.

Unfortunately, this $4M plan for Cemetery Park does not provide any functional stormwater improvements. However, with the right designer and a regional plan, much of the improvements desired for this area could come from stormwater grants and Integrated Water Management Planning.

For more on the park plan see the City of Ventura website.