Monday, April 7, 2014

My Objections To Bridgeport's Proposed Canoe Launches and Other Plans for Davis Park Island

This is my open letter to the Bridgeport Township Government

The foundation of our little town of Bridgeport is our beautiful Cass River, and also our historical bridge.  These should always be the focus of our town.  These are our best assets.  These are the things that can still bring our community together.  These are the things that we must treat with the utmost care and respect.  We are the caretakers of our river and we must protect it in every decision that we make, every action we take as individuals and as a community.

Now let’s discuss the two proposed canoe launches.  I am not actually against them.  I think they would be a great thing to have here.  I would love to have others enjoy this river as much as I have.  I would love to be able to canoe or kayak down this river again.  My problem is the condition that the river is currently in.  Our river was damaged by the actions of Bridgeport Township and it is our responsibility to repair the damage we have done.  I was furious when I first read the plans for putting in these canoe launches.  Why?  Because no where did it mention anything about first trying to repair our river.  I thought “canoe launches”, what are you crazy?  Who’s @##$% idea was this?   The river is so silted in by the actions taken in 1975 that in the summertime you cannot get any kind of boat down this river, not even a canoe.  When would the most canoeing activity take place?  In the summertime when the river is so low you can’t get a canoe down it.  
We had the canoe launch, we had a boat launch, now they are both gone, the river is damaged, and now you’re talking about putting in two new launches!  Nowhere have I seen any concern from anyone in our township government about the state of our river.  No one in our township government is talking about fixing this mess.  All I can see is that you want to put in more launches, and all I can think is how much damage will they do this time to our river?
I would support the canoe launches, but only after the damage to our river has first been repaired.  This river needs to be dredged out and the canal along Fayette / Fort road needs to be totally filled in.  I don’t know how to repair the pond.  It is silted in, I suppose that could also be dredged out.  The problem with the pond is also that there is not enough water flow anymore from the wetlands.  I don’t know how to fix that.  Maybe in time after the river was fixed, the pond would take care of itself. Maybe the pond can never be repaired, but the river can be.  I would only support the canoe launches if you could give me a 110% guarantee that they would not cause any further damage to our river. 
Now let’s talk about the actual logistics of your plan.  The Cass River is a floodplain.  River = Floodplain.  I understand that a dock has to go in the river, has to go in the water.  Where the problem lies in my mind is that the two locations you have picked for these launches are the two worst areas for flooding that I am aware of here in Bridgeport.  I will be posting some pictures here of the flooding in Davis Park last year.  Even the playground equipment on the island was under water.  I have seen over all my years here the damage that the flooding causes.  I have watched it destroy the things that have been built in the park area.  Now what roads are almost always closed during times of flooding?  Fayette Street between the wetlands and Davis Park, Riverview and the Dixie Highway where it crosses the Cass River.  The river bottom area along the Dixie Hwy is worthless land, it is good for nothing because of the flooding there.  I don’t know exactly where on Mr. Hoffman’s land you are planning on putting this launch but I don’t see that any of that land along the river there is any good.  That is the worst flooded area out here that I am aware of.  To me these plans don’t even make sense:  to build two launches in the worst flooded areas, to launch canoes in a river that is unusable because of the silting and the low water levels.  Why would anyone do something like that?  Maybe I would support the canoe launches, but I just can’t see these two locations as the best option. 
Now let’s talk a little more about Davis Park, specifically the island.  First question here is has anyone ever tested the area around the island to see if any contamination from the old dump is leaching into the river or into the soil of the island?  Second question is about the stability of the island with all of the proposed building to go on there.  For years I have watched holes popping up here and there on the island.  Some are from the woodchucks and their burrows, but there doesn't actually seem to be too many of them around there anymore.  They did used to be bad!  There are still holes showing up.  It appears that there are just some little areas that cave in.  There used to be more especially around the end of the island towards Fayette St.  What exactly is the foundation of the island?  Would it support a parking lot and the proposed traffic that these plans would bring onto the island?  Would the banks of the island on the river side need to be shored up to prevent erosion from the river and the flooding?  The river banks all along there continue to erode year after year. Have you compared all your proposed building plans to the actual area available on the island that doesn't end up under the flood water?  How would you prevent anything you build up there from being damaged in the flooding?  There are so many questions that need to be thoroughly examined before anything should ever be built on that island.

All I see is more money wasted.  People will say “well it is grant money, can’t turn free money down”.  There is no such thing as Free Money!  That money comes from the backs of the taxpayers.  Just because you CAN get grant money, doesn't mean that you SHOULD. 

I will admit that I don’t trust our township government and I have no confidence in the decisions you make.  I am not the only one who feels this way.  This didn't happen overnight, it has been years and years in the making.  It is the responsibility of the township government to regain the residents trust and confidence.

I am adding some photo's here of the April 2013 flooding in Davis Park.  The flooding was actually higher several days before I made it there to take the photographs.  Remember that we do not only have flooding in the spring time.

This photo is of the flooding on the island.  You can see that even though the flood waters were already receding the playground equipment was still under water.

This one here is of the pavilion on the island, you can see that it also is under water.

The rest of these are shots of Davis Park and Lyle Park.

The last photo was taken from the Fort St. Bridge looking down the river towards the State St. Bridge.  Just wanted to show the power and majesty of our river when she is raging.  The little green spot you see on the right side is the top of the high hill back in the wooded area of Davis Park.

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