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Writer: Trees, Not More Blacktop Is What The City Needs

Dear Editor,
Last weekend, we went to visit relatives in the Endicott, Endwell, Johnson City and  Binghamton area. We were saddened by the flood damage to all four downtown areas.  Being built between many mountains and valleys the river had little places to expand when the waters came pouring down.

Why was it so obvious to us, visitors to the area, but our relatives could not see?

They had removed so many street trees to put in so more parking lots that there was nothing to slow down the heavy rains. In less than 4 years that area has had two 100-year floods. Houses with big driveways have been built all along every mountainside with roads curving around out of the rocks. But very few street trees were to be seen.

Malls are placed wherever they found a big flat space, again with no thought to leaving the trees that were there or planting more to help slow down the future rains or to soak up the water that pools. Instead they put in drains and culverts to hurry the water down to the river.

Now I hear our common councilors want to do something similar right here in Oswego next Monday evening. They want to let anyone who wants to put in blacktop between their sidewalk and the curb. Probably so your neighbor can have more parking spaces to rent out more rooms in their apartment houses.

What will the blacktopping of your neighbors property do to you and your city? Beside making the neighborhood look uglier because instead of a tree or two and maybe some bushes and grass, which all slows down the downpour of storm water we seem to be getting more often, we’re going to have more water rushing down the street and flowing into our storm water pipes that have been mixing with our sewer plant. When that happens the city has to open the sewer flood gates and let raw sewage into the river to keep our sewer plants from flooding and causing internal damages.

I’d like to know where our city intake of our fresh water is, hopefully above stream of this rushing effluent?

I also believe the city of Syracuse drink Lake Ontario’s water too, where’s their intake pipe?

Why do you think our city has been hit with an $87 million bill to rebuild our storm sewers? It’s not just because the pipes are old, but also because the city has been allowing major black top or cement parking lots in an 10 block area around the downtown on both sides of the river. But they haven’t asked for designs that help slow down the water’s rush to the river, either porous pavement or pocket parks with a number of trees that could be soaking up much of the water and slowing it down.

Big box stores out of the city haven’t been good neighbors either. Their parking lots could use real landscapers who don’t kill their few trees with volcano mulching around the struggling trees.

Water runs down hill, we all know that.  If the grass, bushes and trees above your house on the side of one of our steep streets has been removed and a hardpan parking lot has been put in, the chances are your yard, sidewalks and maybe basement is going to have more water in it. Please call your city councilor today and tell them you don’t want more black top in the city, you want to slow the rains down with absorbing surfaces; i.e. decorative bricks with gravel and grass, with more trees to absorb the rain and melting snow in the spring.

Thank you.
June MacArthur