Residents and Kopf Family Metro Parks supporters expressed disappointment that the city has cleared a one-third of mile swath, 30-feet wide, to insert a pipeline to alleviate flooding.
The pipe, now running through the center of a mapped “paper street” that was never developed, is in the city’s right-of-way and is needed to stop water from entering homes in the area, including Hunter Road.
Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka said adding a drainage pipe was integral to the area.
“There was substantial flooding in the area,” Zilka said. “Water was pouring from Save the Woods (Kopf Reservation) to backyards. Several homes were surrounded by water and it was seeping into basements. It was getting worse and worse.
“We determined best way to (stop the flooding) was to put a pipe in.”
Zilka said there was “frustration and anger” with some of the people associated with Save The Woods, the organization responsible for creating what is now the Kopf Family Reservation, part of the Lorain County Metro Parks system.
Kopf Family Reservation is a 162-acre heavily wooded park that opened in 2008. It is a partnership between the Lorain County Metro Parks, the City of Avon Lake, Avon Lake Public School District and Avon Lake Public Library.
Zilka said area homeowners were notified the pipeline would be going through and all construction was completed within the city’s right-of-way on Hunter Road.
“We’ll plant grass and eventually a canopy will grow up and the area will return to woods,” Zilka said. “It’s something we had to do.”
Metro Parks not aware of construction
The director of the Lorain County Metro Parks, James Ziemnik, said the construction came as a surprise to his office. The Metro Parks oversees the park.
“We were not made aware of (the construction) prior to their starting,” Ziemnik said. “Once the equipment came in (senior naturalist for Lorain County Metro Parks) Grant Thompson gave me a call.”
Thompson oversees the park and maintains an office at the Avon Lake Public Library, which borders the park.
“We own the majority of the lots in the park, but not the right-of-way,” Ziemnik said. “They (the city) were well within their rights. It’s for some storm sewer improvement. We respect their right to do that.
“It’s not the best-looking thing, but apparently they had some drainage issues.”
Former mayor, Save the Woods founder, calls it “sad”
Former Avon Lake Mayor K.C. Zuber, also the founder of Save the Woods, expressed disappointment.
“I think it’s sad, nobody seemed to know what was happening,” Zuber said. “They just went in and ripped up one-third of a mile without talking to the Metro Parks.”
Zuber said he talked to several council members who also had no idea the project was taking place.
Zuber said when he was mayor he had discussed the issue and felt it would have been better draining water from the south side of Hunter Road to SR 83.
“It would have been a cheaper fix; you wouldn’t have to go in an take out over an acre of woods.”
Avon Lake Service Director Tom Lescher said sending the pipe to the creek was a better solution than sending the pipeline to SR 83.
“It was a consideration,” he said. “But it would have been an additional length for the water. We are trying to catch the water in the woods. There’s a catch basin every 100 feet. We’re taking out the (old) sidewalks so water can flow across the area.”
Lescher also addressed the height of the pipe that is pouring water into the creek, acknowledging that with enough rain, the pipe will be underwater.
“Well put an elbow on the end, so when the water comes out so it goes with the creek,” he said. “We have lots of pipes like that in the city.”
The project should be completed in the next few weeks.
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