By JOY BROWN
More than half the Findlay residents living along a section of Lye Creek where a “riparian corridor” has been proposed oppose the project, a petition shows.
“Consensus has been reached. We don’t like it,” said Sondra Bixby of 816 Wedgewood Drive, who circulated the petition and submitted it Tuesday to City Council.
Of the 42 homes Bixby surveyed, residents of 22 houses said they were against the idea. Two of those homes are now vacant and are expected to be razed.
Bixby, who also expressed skepticism about the corridor plans at a Jan. 9 meeting, said she thinks the buffer of trees, bushes and other vegetation would attract “undesirable wildlife” and “provide more cover for criminal activity” such as drug dealing.
Susan Thompson of 615 W. Foulke Ave. also spoke against the project on Tuesday. Thompson does not live near that portion of Lye Creek, but is an organizer of the Findlay 912 Project, a conservative political group that has had a presence at the Lye Creek meetings and has a history of opposing conservation projects.
A riparian buffer would come with future land use limitations and could “affect flood mitigation actions, just as the mussels are doing now” in the Blanchard River, Thompson said, referring to an endangered species.
“Grants will be the downfall of this nation,” she said.
The initial proposal called for creating a buffer on flood-prone land owned by the city and county along the east and west sides of Lye Creek where it intersects the Blanchard River in Findlay.
Native vegetation would be planted to provide better habitat for existing wildlife, absorb more water and slow the speed of creek floodwater, said Phil Martin, watershed coordinator of the Blanchard River Watershed Partnership, the agency seeking the grant that would pay for the project. The project would not prevent flooding, he has said.
The project would be paid for with a $92,000 grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
But neighbors, upset that they heard about the proposal from a newspaper story instead of being contacted in advance for their thoughts, have raised questions and concerns.
Some wondered why the Federal Emergency Management Agency would allow trees to be planted in an area where it frequently floods, when the agency won’t allow a fence post to be erected there.
At the Jan. 9 meeting, nine residents who live near that portion of the creek showed up. Six said they favored a modified approach that would have Martin seek grant money for a buffer to be placed along the creek’s west side first, which is less residential.
Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer on Tuesday said he hasn’t heard back from Martin about whether that type of grant application would be accepted.
Ron Monday, 4th Ward councilman, has been working with residents and Martin to coordinate meetings and acquire more information on the proposal.
Separately Tuesday, council members broke from tradition by giving two spending-related ordinances the first of three required readings, instead of hurrying passage of the legislation. Council normally rushes to approve spending bills.
One ordinance would give Schmelzer permission to seek bids and enter into contracts to purchase or lease equipment for various departments, and to enter into contracts for various construction projects. Another would appropriate funds for city gym equipment and maintenance; swimming pool chairs; three truck beds and bucket truck repairs for Street Department vehicles.