Adapting to Change

Here at Cuyahoga SWCD we are adapting to the changes and challenges of our current reality, as is everyone. In our adapted work routine, we are still able to do field work and conduct inspections. We have assigned vehicles and limit our meetings to the outdoors while adhering to the 6 ft. distance requirement. I am very fortunate to keep my inspection schedule as it allows for some pre-Covid19 normalcy in my work routine.

We conduct construction inspections until all areas of exposed soil are stabilized, so near the end of a construction project I like to say this is the “watching the grass grow” phase. When a project wraps up in the late fall or winter, it’s safe to say we won’t be able to close out the project until the Spring. And so, with April and May comes plenty of opportunities to say goodbye to some sites.

This April I was able to close out a project I have been inspecting since 2017! The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) transformed a brownfield filled with industrial waste and contaminated soil to what is now the Woodland Central Green Infrastructure site. The community is welcomed to these previously inhabitable areas with walking paths that weave through wildlife supporting vegetation and new trees. The new green infrastructure fully removes the stormwater from the combined sewer system and redirects the flow to Kingsbury Run. In total this project created 15.6 acres of greenspace and eliminated 14.3 million gallons (!!!) of annual combined sewer overflow.

The area of the project I am writing about is in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood off of Kinsman Rd. just east of E. 62nd. When I first started walking the site I saw hundreds of tires, car parts, and an abundance of trash. There was a water-filled trench that contained so many tires and smelled of diesel fuel. Slowly the site started to transform. When the underground site work was complete the above-ground work started. The contaminated soils and debris were hauled away and the final grade started to take shape. The basins were excavated and the vegetation was applied. A walking path through the site was added and my site visits drastically changed from watching where I stepped to watching for birds in the revitalized area. I am happy to see this project end and plan to visit the site not as an inspector, but someone enjoying the new community amenity.

Development is inevitable in our ever-growing communities, but in Cuyahoga County we have plenty of opportunities for redevelopment. In this area there was an opportunity to transform a hazardous brownfield to a place that would benefit the community and the environment. Redevelopment and restoration projects are the spark that started my interest in this field and they are the hope I look to when I see hundreds of acres of forestland clear-cut for the next development. We are all adapting to change right now, happy to see some positive adaptation right here in Cleveland.

Blog Author: Megan Smith, Stormwater Specialist

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