The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

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In City Hall on August 11, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Thanks. The Gazette has decided to handle its blogs differently. Let’s see how it works. Again, thanks.

Brouhaha in Oakhill Jackson over weeds and native plants and the power of a City Council member to call in the mowers

In Jerry McGrane, Neighborhoods on July 22, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Mike Richards and Jerry McGrane are engaged in a spitting match over Poet’s Park.

The dispute – between the president of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association and his predecessor, now a City Council member — is over a small flower garden that sits with a landmark stone at 12th Avenue and Otis Road SE to tell passers-by that they are in the neighborhood.

The spot, created on city land several years ago by the neighborhood association, is now called Poet’s Park.

On Wednesday afternoon, Richards fired off a press release, saying that McGrane had inappropriately used his standing as a City Council member to call on the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to mow down what Richards says were native Iowa prairie plants at the site.

McGrane fired right back, saying he did nothing of the kind. He said he brought the park up to city staff a few weeks ago in a general discussion about maintaining the smaller parks in the city.

Further, he said “due to Michael Richards’ laziness” as the neighborhood president, the garden at the triangular intersection at 12th Avenue and Otis Road SE had all gone to weeds.

McGrane also disputed that there were many native plants at the site, “unless you want to call weeds native plants,” he said.

Richards fired back: Just because McGrane doesn’t know what native plants look like doesn’t mean they weren’t there, Richards said.

As Richards tells it, all this came to light on Wednesday when a team of AmeriCorps Green Corps members showed up at the park at Richards’ request to clean up and weed the flower garden. The city employee was just finishing up his mowing at the site, Richards said.

Tim Reynolds, one of the Green Corps members, late Wednesday afternoon said the space in question was home to native plantings. Three other areas in the park also have plots of native plantings, and he said the Corps members cleaned those up and put new mulch in them on Wednesday.

Richards thought there the plants had been permanently damaged, though Reynolds said they would grow back.

McGrane said he knows someone willing to donate money to replace what he says was weeds with new plantings.

Solid waste agency prepares to capture methane at Site 2 landfill; plan is one day to convert it into energy

In Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, Tom Podzimek on July 21, 2009 at 5:37 pm

The Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency is moving ahead to catch methane gas from its Site 2 landfill in a way that one day might turn generators to produce electricity.

The agency’s board on Tuesday said it hold a public hearing on Aug. 21 to discuss a proposal to install a gas collection system at the Site 2 landfill on County Home Road at Highway 13.

The cost of the system is expected to be $1.4 million, and it should be in place by January, consultant Brian Harthun told the board.

For now, the collected gas will be burned off, but the plan is to install engines to generate electricity, Tom Podzimek, Cedar Rapids City Council member and board chairman, noted.

Harthun estimated that the Site 2 landfill now would generate about 30 to 40 percent of the methane currently collected from the Site 1 landfill below Czech Village.

The Site 1 landfill had had been closed, but was reopened and remains open to take in debris from last year’s flood.

The agency board currently is in the middle of litigation over a contract dispute over the purchase of methane from the Site 1 landfill to produce energy. For now, the methane at Site 1 is being burned off.

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