by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The five- to seven-inch deluge of rain that occurred this past Memorial Day not only caused three major washouts and the closing of a two-mile section of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail (WPT), but also threatened the 24-inch Rockford sewer line that runs parallel to the trail itself within the right-of-way. On average, the sewer pipe daily carries a whopping 700,000 gallons of raw sewage on its way from Rockford to the North Kent Sewer Authority Sewage Water Treatment Plant (PARCC Side) on Coit Avenue in Grand Rapids’ northeast side. Regularly ensuing heavy rains since Memorial Day have further eroded the damaged sections of the WPT. At the same time, the underlying and adjacent soil was being further destabilized, placing additional pressure on the sewer line. With the pristine Rogue River flowing just below, one can only imagine the environmental havoc that would result from a rupture of the huge sewer pipe. Rockford City Manager Michael Young has been on top of this situation from day one. He has tasked the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) to daily monitor the situation along with opening clogged drains and placing straw bales to inhibit further erosion. “I felt the City should not sit on its hands, but rather, be proactive from the very beginning. We could not afford to sit idly by and do nothing. It turns out we absolutely took the right actions. Without our remedial work, the heavy rains that have since followed may well have ruptured the pipeline,” said Young. All the work thus far is only temporary. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) has accepted the seriousness of the situation, but at the same time is “wringing its hands” to find a source of funding for a $60,000 engineering study and an estimated $250,000 for permanent repair. Monday, this week, we learned from Dave Heyboer, chairman of the Friends of the White Pine Trail, that a “white knight has ridden to the rescue.” The Kent County Road Commission will provide the engineering, labor and material needed to temporarily stabilize the affected area of the trail. The City of Rockford, Plainfield Township, and the Friends will reimburse the county for expenses incured. The […]
Rockford City Manager Michael Young
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL As dawn broke on Tuesday morning of this week Anderson’s Metal Sculpture installed and attached a much-anticipated work of art to the face of Rockford’s iconic Rogue River Dam. Titled Waterdance, the sculpture is composed of three stainless steel fish leaping for joy amidst swirls of water. The grander than life-size fish, synonymous with the Rogue River, are a rainbow trout, a steelhead, and a brown trout. Utilizing a specially constructed boom, powered by 11 muscular and eager helpers, each fish was lowered from the top of the dam to be anchored to the dam’s foundation by Steven Anderson below. From start to finish the 1 ¾ hour well- choreographed installation went off without a hitch, much to the great pleasure of all involved. The finished piece was then draped from view for what was to follow later in the evening. And so, just prior to this year’s first Tuesday evening performance of the ever popular Huntington Rogue River Blues series, all in attendance were invited by Rockford City Manager Michael Young to gather at the Rockford Dam Overlook for an unveiling and dedication ceremony of “something really special for the town by a very, very talented man, Sculptor Steve Anderson.” Young went on to say, “Waterdance will be the centerpiece of the City’s summer long celebration of Rockford’s 75th anniversary of being incorporated as a city in June of 1935.” Young further noted that the DDA, The Rockford Area Arts Commission, and the City of Rockford underwrote the material costs of the sculpture. For his part, Anderson tells us his creative costs of design and layout along with construction labor and installation were Anderson’s Metal Sculpture’s gift to the Rockford community. Anderson, a CedarRock resident, expressed his gratitude to all who played a hand in the creation and installation of Anderson’s Metal Sculpture’s most prodigious undertaking to date. He asked that special recognition be given to his sons, Chad and Troy, for being co-creators of Waterdance. He also recognized Randy Everett of Rahm Industrial Services, Inc. and his 2-man crew, Dave and Nester, for prior preliminary concrete repair and hardware installation at the dam site. And finally to his pre-dawn installation crew consisting of: (in no particular order) Chad and […]
According to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, the city water is safe and two required tests show that residents can again ingest water without having to boil it. An electrical storm that caused severe damage Monday, May 31, included two lightning hits that damaged the computer system that runs the water plant and elevated water towers. Young said he believed the Wolverine World Wide tank, which is owned by the city, was struck. The water treatment system that fills tanks in the city is automated. When tanks lower to about half full, the computer tells the plant to turn on water and refill them. Apparently the lightening fried the automated program and also the back-up that tells operators when the program isn’t working. “We have a back up system that turns on an alarm when the system is down,” Young said. Because of the damage, neither system worked and at least one of three tanks—the Wolverine tank, the North Rockford Middle School tank and the Glen Eagle tank ran low enough to allow air to enter the water system. “It’s required by the state when anything, even if it is just air, enters the water system we have to issue a boil water warning,” Young said. He said preliminary tests on Wednesday showed the water was safe and a test done 24-hours later, about 6 a.m. Thursday morning, also confirmed the water was fine. There were at least three lightning hits in the city during the several hours of the storm. During the boil water warning Young answered questions posed by residents on his blog at www.rockford.mi.us.
When people think what issues may be high on the priority list in local government, environmental conservation might immediately come to mind. For an organization that is dedicated to protecting land, air and water quality, the City of Rockford stood out for just that reason. The Izaak Walton League of America’s local chapters recognized Rockford City Manager Michael Young as Conservationist of the Year at their annual banquet, praising him for his care of the environment. The group specifically praised Young for his part in the creation of the PARCC Side Clean Water Plant, now treating the wastewater of Rockford and the townships of Plainfield, Alpine, Cannon and Courtland. Young was influential in creating and continues to chair the North Kent Sewer Authority, which is responsible for the building of the plant, which offers state-of-the-art sewage processing resulting in water clean enough to drink. The group had other reasons they believe Young is worthy of the award. The City of Rockford administers their own soil erosion control program, requiring permits for every lot, regardless of size. This is to protect the creeks and the Rogue River as well as the City storm sewers from siltation. The city also requires new development to have conservation easements and park, a total of 15 percent set aside for recreation. Rockford continues to work toward creating a buffer on the west side of the Rogue River, similar to the buffer provided on the east side by the White Pine Trail. Finally, the City is one of few that has developed a sustainability plan that includes wind, energy, watershed protection and electrical cost savings. “Michael grew up in Grand Haven and developed a love of the outdoors as a child,” said Fred Eyer during the banquet. “This has carried over into the outdoor interests he has today of flower gardening, inland lake fishing and upland bird and waterfowl hunting. During his 15-year tenure with Rockford, many environmentally friendly things have happened under his guidance.” Young stated, “The City has quietly been making wise choices with respect to natural resources.” Izaak Walton League members called this “an understatement.”
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL With almost two months of the “white stuff” on the ground and no end in sight, we’ve decided to “think green”—parks, that is. Through its Center for City Park Excellence (CCPE), the Trust for Public Land (TPL) reported, “American park users, consisting mostly of families with children, have increased their visits to local parks and playgrounds during this recent period of economic difficulty,” according to CCPE Director Peter Harnik. According to a nationwide poll conducted by Harris Interactive (on behalf of the TPL), more than 70 percent of surveyed park visitors say they are using parks as much, if not more so, than they did when the economy was strong. “The poll results indicate both a strong and consistent use of parks and playgrounds along with a renewed recognition of their value in tight economic times,” said Harnik. Rockford is blessed with many fine parks providing close-to-home outdoor recreational experiences. People turn to local parks in a time when fewer people have money to travel. Rockford’s parklands are well distributed around town, often only a short walk or a bike ride away. The CCPE conducts an annual survey of the 77 largest U.S. cities, comparing acreage of parklands per 1,000 residents. In the latest survey, if we compare Rockford (population 4,625) with the 77 cities (all who have populations in excess of 242,000), we find that Rockford would rank 15th. However, Anchorage, Alaska—placing first in the survey—includes the gargantuan 495,204-acre Chugach State Park within its city limits. When we factor out the huge size of the third largest state park in the U.S., Anchorage drops out of the top 15 and Rockford moves up to 14th nationwide. This is lofty company. By example, we can compare Rockford with 25.9 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents to our largest metropolitan neighbor, Chicago, with a minute 4.2 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. “The decision to move and reside in Rockford is based on numerous quality-of-life issues, not the least of which is our fair City’s developed recreational parklands and green space,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young. To quote Rockford Living Magazine, “Over the past 15 years, the City of Rockford has developed, improved, or created several parks, paths, trails, and […]