Nature Park meeting

Logan City Attorney Kymber Housley reads case law Friday that he claims supports the legality of constructing a retention and detention pond at Denzil Stewart Nature Park as Hilary Shughart listens.

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A group of Logan city employees came to a sort of compromise Friday with residents who are concerned with the construction of a stormwater detention and retention pond at Denzil Stewart Nature Park.

Leading the charge in opposition to the pond is Hilary Shughart, a local environmental advocate and president of the Bridgerland Audubon Society. She points to the conditions of a 1975 deed agreement in which Denzil Stewart sold three acres of land to Logan for $10 and “other valuable consideration.” The deed states “the land will be developed and used only as a nature park, depicting the natural plants, trees, shrubs, animals, birds, etc., historically natural and native to the Cache Valley area.”

She said her main concern is that the nature park will now be used to filter polluted stormwater from Dry Canyon and the Johnson Cove Subdivision, which she argues is inconsistent with the conditions of the deed.

“We’re not allowed to let that water go into the Logan River, so we’re putting it into the park so the water can filter through the soil, but the pollution remains in the park,” Shughart said.

By the end of the informal meeting at City Hall, city employees agreed to look into ways to filter the stormwater before it comes to the nature park’s detention and retention pond. City Engineer Bill Young said Logan will start talking to vendors and suppliers to put together some plans and information.

“I think we’re looking at ways that we can remove the contaminants here that they were discussing before it gets into the pond,” Young said. “Those are the things we’re going to look at. I don’t know if we’re looking at a wholesale change of the way things are built or constructed.”

He said the city could install a hydrodynamic separator above the nature park, which would hold water in different chambers to allow sediment to drop out or to collect floatables. He said it’s like a mini-treatment plant. Such improvements would come at additional costs, but Young didn’t want to provide any cost estimates at this point.

Shugart said she isn’t “dancing on the table” but felt the solutions discussed would be an improvement.

“If we can do all of the different things that have been suggested for improving filtering the water before it gets into the park, then we have made huge progress,” Shughart said.

But in an ideal world, she said, the pond wouldn’t exist at all. She would like to see Johnson Cove implement park strips landscaped as rain gardens that collect and filter stormwater. She also said each home should have a cistern to hold rainwater from roofs. Permeable paving would be helpful as well.

The need for a detention pond came about after the Logan Planning Commission in March 2016 approved a permit for Johnson Cove Subdivision, a 40-lot residential subdivision just east of Denzil Stewart Nature Park. After the permit was granted, City Attorney Kymber Housley said the developer and the city came to an agreement to expand the nature park. The developer exchanged 1.92 acres of land to be used for the park and Logan in turn gave a half acre of land to the developer.

Housley said the developer planned to use the half acre from the city for stormwater management, but Parks and Recreation Director Russ Akina thought it would be better to place the detention pond at a lower elevation, closer to entrance to the park near the bridge over the Logan River.

In February of this year, construction equipment began excavating part of the park for the detention pond. It will be seeded with native grasses and planted with shrubs later this spring. Young said it is designed to drain 72 hours after a storm. Outside of that time, it will be available for recreation. Housley said the developer is paying for the part of the detention pond that fits their requirements and the city is paying for the rest.

Housley said he thinks it could be argued that anyone who cares about conservation would hope that Logan uses open space, like parks and soccer fields, for stormwater detention and retention. He said all of the city’s parks have some form of stormwater management, adding that it’s a nationwide practice.

“Let’s face it, we’re in a desert,” Housley said. “We’re not going to have that thing filled with water very often.”

He said he doesn’t see any way that Logan is violating the conditions of the 1975 deed agreement, citing case law from Pennsylvania that dealt with a similar issue. In that case, Housley said, a city agreed for a development to use a park for stormwater management. Some neighbors were upset and sued. The case went to trial court and appellate court. The courts found that stormwater management is not inconsistent with the use of a park.

In an interview after the meeting, Shughart said she doesn’t buy Housley’s argument.

“Where we are right now is not consistent with the nature park deed, regardless of any opinions given about when situations like this have gone to court before,” Shughart said. Twitter: @RealSeanDolan

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