Thursday, December 20, 2012

Neighbors organize cleanup team for construction mess


Neighbors on the Bay are fed up with the Ghidorzi Companies--a contractor that has caused repeated plumes of muddy water into the bay, clouds of dust on windy days, insulation blowing about, and mud on the streets.

So two retired firefighters who live on the bay, Steve Vanko and Tom Ulrich, have formed a team--to clean up the next mess--and DELIVER THE DIRT to those responsible.

The first "action" came Dec. 19, when a large "trackout" of mud from Ghidorzi on Fish Hatchery Rd was noticed at 4:30 pm.  Probably more than a hundred pounds of mud, much of it in large clods, was spread about a block south of the construction entrance.

The "rapid response team" of three was ready to go by 7:00 pm, with one "backup" on call.  The rush was to get the mud before the blizzard started. But to our as surprise, Ghidorzi had already cleaned it up!

Possibly they saw me photographing, and beat us to it.  Or even better, perhaps they had a change of heart--after six months of pollution.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pollution of Monona Bay by Ghidorzi Companies

Construction at the intersection of S Park St and Fish Hatchery Rd has caused repeated bouts of muddy plumes, litter, and dust pollution of Monona Bay.  The contractor is Ghidorzi Companies.

Despite complaints from neighbors, the problems have persisted for months.  Steve Vanko (right) and Tom Ulrich--retired firefighters who live on the bay--have obtained 160* signatures on a petition:

"I am a landowner, resident, or neighbor with an interest in Monona Bay.  I am concerned that activities at the Wingra Clinic construction site at 1102 S. Park Street, operated by Ghidorzi Companies, Inc., may have led to unnecessary pollution of Monona Bay, and I support action to ensure that the company fully complies with all applicable stormwater management and erosion control requirements."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Introducing Friends of Olin-Turville Park


This is a beautiful example of how encouraging cultural activities at a park can have many benefits. Neglected public spaces--even tiny greenways--can become places where neighbors connect.

Home projects for watershed health

I've been testing several projects people can do at home...

One-hour rain gardens for your sidewalk. Observe which side of your sidewalk the water runs to--and especially, where water pools. Then dig out the soil to well below the pavement level. Put in native plants adapted to sun or shade, as the spot requires. It's a good way to get started infiltrating rain--it takes only an hour, per square of sidewalk.

Rain gardens for your downspouts or driveway. Every downspout that currently sends water to the street needs a rain garden. Don't dump your responsibility onto the City! Rain gardens are beautiful, interesting places. This is one of the most important things you can do for your your lake and water supply--but a good rain garden takes several days to build. More info.

Mini-nursery. Plant a few natives in an unused shady spot where grass won't grow, or in a nearby stormwater channel. After they spread, share them with neighbors. Be the "Johnny Appleseed" of woodland plants.

Stop erosion in your neighborhood. Repair an eroding terrace. Plant shady bare areas with woodland plants. Build little dams in gullies.

Eradicate invasives in your yard or neighborhood. Eliminate plants like burdock, garlic mustard, or Japanese knotweed. More.

Get rain barrels (right) for your downspouts, and use them to water your garden.

Plant native perennials to increase biodiversity, and to reduce your area of sterile grass.

Reclaim your greenway as a mini-reserve. First, improve access by trimming branches or downed trees. Then mark a pathway. Pull invasives, and plant native plants. You might also create shelter for animals by making piles of branches, or provide water.

Beautify a forgotten public space--terrace, median, park, or stormwater channel. If it's not next to your house, it's best to involve neighbors, and consult with your neighborhood association or neighborhood garden group.

Terrace gardens create beauty and diversity in neighborhoods. The most important thing is to dig out the soil to well below the sidewalk level. That way, rainwater flows in from the sidewalk, turning the terrace into a rain garden. Leaves accumulate, enriching the soil.

Get kids outdoors with a neighborhood project, like watching where stormwater goes, or tracking wildlife.

Read "Childhood memories of our stream," by Craig Miller.

Plant a Christmas tree you can harvest--or use outdoors--in place of buying one. Or plant an understory tree on your terrace. Springtime is the best time to plant. More.

Turn yard waste into compost. Be a modern-day alchemist... turn brown into green! The City doesn't pick up yard waste anymore. With a composter in the back yard, you don't have to lug leaves to your terrace, or lug store bought bags of compost in. When you spread compost around your plants, they celebrate for several years. Video. David Thompson.  Originally appeared on Save Our Stream.