Published On: Fri, Aug 8th, 2014

Study approved for Island Park Restoration Project

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What started a year ago as a grant proposal for another project, became a solution for a never-to-be-developed section of Ronceverte’s Island Park which, as described by Doug Hylton, had a mosquito problem and was “ugly” with misuse over the years.

At the Monday night council meeting, Hylton introduced Fritz Boettner, who leads a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) program and has over ten years of professional experience in a wide array of environmental consulting activities, and Emily Carlson, a landscape architect. Both consultants are with Downstream Strategies of Alderson with whom Hylton has been in discussion for the purpose of developing a permanent wetlands area along the Greenbrier River called the Ronceverte Island Park Restoration Project. Hylton said Boettner will first draw up a grant to conduct a study of the area. He asked the council approve and sign a Letter of Intent giving permission for Boettner to conduct the study.

The funding for the Island Park Restoration Project is sourced from corporations required to pay mitigation for damage done by their developments on wetland areas. Compensatory mitigation projects are made available to communities designed to replace aquatic resource functions and values that are adversely impacted under the Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbors Act regulatory programs. The EPA’s aim is to reconnect the wetlands to forested areas and also improve water quality in streams and rivers. That focus will be applied to Island Park planning and landscaping to bring the wetlands back to its natural restorative state in filtering and lessening storm water conditions in the park. The project is being partnered by the Greenbrier River Watershed Association.

A key part of the project requires a conservation easement restricting any later developments Ronceverte could do to those affected areas. The city will retain ownership and oversight of the wetlands, however maintenance of the wetlands will be under the control of a conservation agency. Additionally, the city will receive dollar value of each acre affected, which could support the construction of a walking bridge across the railroad track to Ronceverte’s downtown area. The council was supportive of the project and viewed it as an attractive, recreational and aesthetically pleasing, educational opportunity.

In other business:

• Eric Hartman, consultant with Dunn Engineering and a regular at Ronceverte city council meetings, updated council with the construction progress of the new waste water system. Council will start “seeing things happening within three months,” he said, as bids are gathered and awarded, and the permit-gathering process is completed.

• The second reading to adopt the state’s building code was approved following a public hearing.

• Ronceverte’s Planning Commission has a draft of the comprehensive plan ready to present to the city council.

• City Administrator Reba Mohler said the Public Service Commission has recommended Ronceverte adopt a Thermal Expansion Policy. She said the Planning Commission has worked with engineers and the city attorney to comply with the EPA’s backflow prevention program which requires the installation of a backflow prevention device within residential and commercial business water meter boxes in order to protect the water distribution system from potential cross connections or backflow from a customer back into the public water system. Such cross connections or backflow could result in pollution and/or contamination of the water system.

A backflow preventer creates an isolated or closed plumbing system, according to Eric Hartman, consultant with Dunn Engineering. Backflow prevention devices are required for commercial businesses and will eventually be required of all residences as well.

For some homeowners, thermal expansion could produce leaky faucets or set off the relief valve on hot water heaters. Thermal expansion occurs when the hot water heater heats the water, causing it to expand. As described by Hartman, thermal expansion is often the “weak link” in the household plumbing system becoming the most likely site of failure or leakage. In order to control thermal expansion, simply lowering the temperature setting of the hot water tank to 115-125 degrees (which is sufficient for most purposes) to reduce the possibility of thermal expansion.

• Police Chief J.R. Byer reported briefly on the busy doings of the department over the past month, stating deputies worked 32 hours straight in July as drug bust operations were being conducted.

• Council member Crystal Byer announced the Lions Club has installed a new floor to the high school gymnasium with appreciation for the funding support from the Greenbrier County Arts & Rec fund ($20,000) and the Hollowell Foundation ($5,000).