Irrigation, water-wise landscaping dominates council meeting
Things are going to look a little different here in Claremont. Soon will be gone the green grass and inefficient sprinkler systems peppered throughout the city and in their place will be smart, updated irrigation technology and water-wise landscaping.
Despite the fact that project cost estimates and construction bids currently exceed the available budget for each project presented at Tuesday night’s meeting, the city council unanimously gave the green light for city staff to move forward with a number of water-conserving landscape projects including those at Shelton Park, City Hall, College Park and the Indian Hill Boulevard median.
The projected estimated costs for all projects total $1,188,805, although the current budget allows for $351,100 in expenditures. With pending rebates at $116,131, the city council will be required to appropriate an additional $721,574 down the road to complete the projects as planned.
The plan for Claremont City Hall will include drought-tolerant ground covers in passive use areas, a decomposed granite plaza to accommodate more active use, planter beds featuring drought-tolerant flowering perennials, a vegetative bioswale, site furnishings and native trees.
The irrigation will be upgraded by replacing existing spray heads with a combination of drip systems, microspray heads and the installation of deep-water bubblers to new and existing trees.
The project is anticipated to reduce water consumption by 54 percent compared to the existing design and would take 45-60 working days to complete. The goal is to complete the project before Village Venture on October 24; however, some areas will be off limits to the public until winter 2016 as the plants become established in their new location.
In years past, College Park has experienced a high frequency of irrigation breaks that are disruptive to the community—particularly the Claremont Little League —which uses the park as its primary location for practices and games. With input from the organization, city staff worked with Architerra Design Group and came up with a plan for improving irrigation. The plan includes removing turf from select areas of the southern and eastern portions of the park and installing a new, efficient irrigation system with a smart controller and central controls to improve monitoring and minimize water usage. The existing artesian well would be integrated into the park as usable turf, and trees would be put in separate irrigation zones to be watered independently. At the request of Claremont Little League, several mulched areas around the baseball fields will be converted to decomposed granite and the outfield warning tracks would be expanded for safety purposes.
City staff anticipates a recommendation to award a contract that will be brought back to council in late July, with construction beginning in August. It would take 90 working days to complete.
It was also noted that in order to meet the commitments to Claremont Little League, the project must be completed by January 1, 2016, to allow the scheduled little league season to begin.
Campbell Wright, president of the Claremont Little League, appeared before council representing the 400 families who participate in the local program and urged the city to move forward with the project.
“We had a mainline break on Opening Day that flooded the dugout and we had a lot of wasted water. It seems to me it’s a necessary evil to redo the system in the park,” Mr. Wright expressed. “My primary concern is that we have a narrow window to get this done so we can be ready for spring.”
With the construction of the new Shelton Park performance stage underway, city staff has anticipated significant damage will be done to the park’s existing turf and irrigation system.
To rehabilitate the park, Architerra Design Group was retained by the city to prepare conceptual plans to remove select turf and install new irrigation and drought-tolerant water conserving landscape. The project is expected to reduce water use by about 65 percent than what is used in the park’s current design.
Community Services Manager Kristin Mikula noted the city has submitted an application for a turf reduction rebate through Metropolitan Water District with a final decision expected in late summer 2015. If approved, the rebate could offset up to $28,524 of the projected costs.
The project will also include relocating the existing public art piece to a bordered landscaped area to serve as its own vignette, as well as improved site furnishings and park lighting.
Bids will be solicited and presented to council next month, with construction on the project anticipated to begin in August 2015 and take 30 working days to complete. The goal is to open Shelton Park prior to the Holiday Promenade on December 4.