Mike Jackson got pretty excited when he noticed a new park being constructed in his South Hill neighborhood. Well, at least he thought it was a new park. It turns out it’s actually a stormwater project.
“It just looks so neat,” Jackson said. “There’s a little pond and trails and wetlands.”
The correct name for the approximately 10-acre parklike area just south of Ferris High School’s football fields is Hazel’s Creek Regional Drainage and Conservation Area. It’s a treatment and disposal site for stormwater collecting in Hazel’s Creek sub-basin, which is part of the Glenrose Watershed.
Gary Nelson, the city’s principal engineer for design, said the area is still in the planning stage.
“In my mind it’s not a park,” said Nelson. “A park is something that’s run by the Parks Department, something that’s getting mowed and kept up.”
The Hazel’s Creek area will be left in its natural state, with grass, shrubs and whatever vegetation is already there.
“This area is owned by the sewer department,” Nelson said. “Nothing keeps people from taking a walk there, and we hope to put in some trails, but we really are still planning this area.”
When snow melts or a lot of rain hits the area, Hazel’s Creek will hold a lot of runoff – sometimes so much that the area will be partially covered.
“As we all know, that won’t happen that often in Spokane, because we just don’t get that much rain at one time,” Nelson said.
Garth Davis, forestry program manager with the Spokane County Conservation District, which also is involved with the Hazel’s Creek area, said Ferris High School students are planting tiny trees on school property adjoining Hazel’s Creek.
“I had some seedlings left over from my plant sale earlier this year, and we donated those to the school,” Davis explained. “By now, most if not all of the planting of those trees has been done.”
Park or not, Hazel’s Creek will remain a green area in the middle of a residential neighborhood that’s quickly filling in around it.
“Yes, that is attractive,” said Nelson. “There was wildlife on the site today when we were up there. We hope to keep it just like that.”