Mission Hills resident Jerry Donohue isn’t ready to “go with the flow,” at least as it pertains to Brush Creek.
He wonders why the creek has been well-maintained east of the Plaza but appears to be neglected west of the Plaza to State Line Road. It’s full of weeds and overgrown trees, he says, and the concrete creek bed is broken.
“It is a total embarrassment to our city.”
Just because that old creek bed is still covered with concrete doesn’t mean an upgrade isn’t coming. In fact, planners already have chosen a concept for removing the concrete and creating an aquatic habitat there.
It’s true that the Country Club Plaza area got the initial attention when Brush Creek was improved, and that had to do with the economic benefits of reducing the likelihood of flood damage. The 1977 Plaza flood proved how devastating an out-of-control creek could be.
As improvements extended east, there was discussion about unifying diverse Kansas City neighborhoods and promoting economic development.
Now, officials are looking at what might be done farther east and to the west.
The paved-over creek bed west of the Plaza illustrates how much theories have changed about how to manage waterways, said Travis Kiefer, assistant director of engineering, planning, design and contracts for Kansas City Parks and Recreation.
The old idea was to get rid of water as fast as possible, but that just sent flooding problems downstream. Now, he said, engineers devise ways to slow the water down. Things like rain gardens and wildlife habitats filter the rainwater and allow it to be absorbed closer to where it falls.
Essentially, Kiefer said, it’s a marriage of beautification and managing flood risks.
The chosen plan is to create pools of water that can recirculate so the creek has more running water all the time, said Lynda Hoffman, waterways division manager in the city’s Water Services Department. And instead of a manicured creek bank, planners have opted for native plants that can clean the water and help absorb the excess.
It will take a combination of federal and local money, Hoffman said, but the funding outlook is positive. The best-case scenario is for construction to start in 2016.
Donohue hopes someone tames the vegetation before then, and the parks department said it will do so after mowing season is over.
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