Nathan Hale Retention Basin For Flood Remediation One Step Closer To Construction
Parma Heights is now one step closer to the construction of a retention basin at Nathan Hale Park to help alleviate the flooding problem residents have been experiencing primarily in the area south of Pearl Road and west of York Road. After a long and complicated process that begin in 2017 and involved administration, residents and community partners, the city has filed and is awaiting approval of a comprehensive application required by the National Park Service before construction can begin. Funding for the project is in place by way of a $1 million Community Infrastructure Grant from the Northeast Ohio Sewer District (NEORSD).
The plan to build the basin has been a subject of negotiation between the National Park Service and the city over the past year. The park land was deeded to the city in 1971 by the federal government for recreational purposes per a Program of Utilization (POU) which was submitted by the city at that time. The application is the final paperwork required to address the concerns the National Park Service has expressed with regard to the need to maintain the property for recreational activities while at the same time emphasizing the city’s need to address local flooding issues.
To prepare the extensive application, (which can be viewed on the city website www.parmaheightsoh.gov) the city retained the services of CT Consultants who reported that conditions have changed significantly since 1970 when Parma Heights originally submitted the POU for the park land. Examples of the changes include the fact that the city population never reached the 35,000 residents estimated in the original application and, because of changing interests over the years, participation in the city’s baseball program has decreased from 1,700 in 1970 to 336 in 2019. CT Consultants also noted that the basin project will not only address the flooding issues but will also create a “multiuse” amenity that better meets the recreational needs of our community at this time.
The original basin plan was revised after two public meetings in May of 2019, and the revised plan was presented at a public meeting in October, 2019. The city’s request to amend the original POU continues to preserve open space and does not negatively impact the existing six soccer fields, playground and two parking lots. The revised plan included with the application incorporates a walking path, educational signage, deep and shallow water areas, spray fountain, pedestrian bridge, benches, a gazebo, grading and landscaping with trees, shrubs and ornamental grass, a new picnic pavilion with bathrooms, soccer field improvements, and a resurfaced parking lot. The Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works has committed funding for the removal and transportation of excavated soil to an off-site location.
The need to find a dramatic action to alleviate the flooding problem arose in 2017 when Parma Heights, along with other communities across NE Ohio, experienced what weather experts classified as a “50 -year flood” and it was concluded that no sewer system could handle the volume of water that fell in that short amount of time. When substantial flooding from a “100-year storm” followed in 2018, our city engineer Neff & Associates immediately contacted the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works and AECOM (a multinational design, consulting and construction firm) to conduct a study to better understand our flooding problem, what causes it, and how to address it.
The Phase I Storm Sewer Evaluation was a hydraulic analysis that monitored the flow of water in storm sewers in a targeted area west of Pearl Road between York Road and West 130th Street. In May 2018, City Council approved an expanded and comprehensive evaluation of storm sewers citywide. In Phase II, 14 flow meters, two rain gauges and one stream gauge were deployed and the result evaluated by experts. These evaluations were used to propose and recommend alternatives for improvement. The recommended action that was ultimately chosen was to construct a storm water basin in Nathan Hale Park.
In July 2019 a stakeholder meeting was held with NEORSD and officials Parma and Tri-C West to get their input and discuss joint plans to alleviate flooding problems in the area. They are both implementing plans that will assist with the city’s flooding remediation.
Michael P. Byrne is the Mayor of Parma Heights, Ohio.