Burlington Times-News February 7, 2009

City Park creek gets facelift


By Michael D. Abernethy / Times-News
February 7, 2009 - 4:18PM
City Park will look a bit different when the state finishes repairing Little Alamance Creek next winter.
The creek, which winds through the park beneath bridges and adjacent to criss-crossing paths, is labeled as impaired by the state. Now the state will help the city of Burlington clean the creek up.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources will foot the bill to right the creek's bed and prevent erosion when heavy rains and rising waters eat away at the banks.
One of the state's new and most-notable requirements for the impaired watershed: a 50-foot natural buffer on each bank. The city won't be allowed to mow vegetation or build around the creek bed. Wherever possible, the land will be restored to its natural state. The vegetative buffer will filter debris and nutrients in runoff, the state says.
Recreation and Parks Director Tony Laws says part of the asphalt greenway that runs between the creek and the ball field will be moved to the other side of the field to accommodate the state's rules. The buffer rule won't affect the playground or carousel area, Laws said.
By DENR's request, the city let grass and weeds on the creek bed grow last summer to the complaint of some residents who thought it made the park look unkempt and allowed wildlife to proliferate. To that end, the city has placed signs explaining the reason for the wild-looking banks in popular areas by the water.
Heavy equipment will move into the bank this fall as devices to slow and spread the flow of water in the creek are installed. In some areas, the creek bed will be slightly rerouted and straightened to reduce erosion.
The state estimates the cost of the project to be near $61,000, according to a memo by William Gilmore, the state director of the Ecosystem Enhancement Program.
Laws expects the construction to be completed within about four months, in time for warm weather and spring activities.