Janesville parks closed until nature does its work

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Saturday, July 12, 2008
— Volunteers eager to roll up their sleeves and start scrubbing the parks must wait for Mother Nature to finish her job.

Mike Williams, leisure services director, said some members of friends’ groups are clamoring to start work.

“Everyone has ownership and pride in our park system and wants to see (the parks) restored to their original beauty prior to the flood,” Williams said.

But he cautioned against going in too early.

E. coli levels remain at dangerous levels in some of the shallow, still water that covers parts of Traxler, Riverside and Monterey parks.

“We want to make sure we’re not putting (employees and volunteers) in harm’s way working in unsanitary conditions,” Williams said.

“We’re just letting Mother Nature do her thing.”

Residents must wait for the wind and sun to dry the ground and the ultraviolet light from the sun to kill the bacteria in the soil, Williams said.

The city has scheduled a parks meeting for Tuesday, July 22, for interested residents to plan cleanup strategy.

Several days ago, workers tested the water in front of the Aqua Jays bleachers in Traxler Park and found a count of 1,400 parts of E. coli bacteria, “which is quite high,” Williams said.

For example, Lions Beach closes at any reading over 1,000 parts.

“That reinforces the fact that the water is still not safe for people to come in contact with,” Williams said. “We need to continue to warn and caution people to stay away.”

The city also got a count of 1,000 parts E. coli in Mole & Sadler’s subdivision, where some of the houses still have water.

Out on the river, the current and oxygenation help clean the water, Williams said.

But standing, shallow, warm water is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. And that’s the kind of water still remaining in Traxler, Riverside and Monterey parks, he said.

“In these little stagnant pockets—these little bays out of the main flow of the water—is where we’re still seeing E. coli,” Williams said.

Once the water recedes, workers will power wash to clean hard surfaces such as bike trails, pavilion floors, walls and playground equipment that have been sitting under water. Residue will include mineral deposits and silt. Bleach will be needed on mold and algae.

“In some areas, we need to be very cautious,” Williams said.

“We need to educate volunteer groups that are going to be in there so that they don’t do additional damage or cause additional harm by using inappropriate chemicals or too-high pressure.”

For instance, the veterans’ memorial in Traxler Park will need special treatment to protect the engraved bricks there.

Staff also suspects the grass in many areas of the parks might be dead and need reseeding. And they anticipate some dead trees.

“There is still a lot of park areas under water,” Williams said. “We don’t know what kind of damage will be there.

“The best thing that can happen is let Mother Nature take the time to help clean up the parks.”

Parks recovery plan meeting

A meeting for residents who want to help the city clean its parks, trails and recreational facilities after June’s flood is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22, in council chambers in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.

For more information, call Tom Presny at (608) 755-3026.

Last updated: 9:49 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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