COLDEN—The Cazenovia Creek stabilization project has been completed, just in time for COlden Elementary School students to go back to school. The project was classified as an “emergency” last year, after the creek bed had eroded.
Over about eight years, the path of Cazenovia Creek changed dramatically, which moved a significant amount of the creek bank near CES and eroded land near the school. The sloping hillside was near the school’s outdoor classroom and storage building and if something wasn’t done soon, both could have been lost if more ground eroded.
“Last year when I first saw the problem, [the land] was maybe 15 feet away from the building and the way the creek was moving, I had serious concern that we would lose the building within the next year depending on what would happen with the rainfall,” Springville-Griffith Institute Superintendent Kimberly Moritz said. “I was worried about student safety and knew that we needed to move quickly to take care of this project before we lost anymore of our property up top.”
In order to fix the problems, the creek needed to be shifted using a natural channel design and restabilization of the land with rocks, stone barriers and hydrophytes to help prevent future erosion.
“[Finishing the construction] was a relief because when you consider how that project came to us, that isn’t the kind of thing that you plan for,” Moritz said.
With the emergency capital project approved in September 2017 and work starting in the summer, Moritz, the S-GI Board of Education and everyone in the district had to quickly learn about the process of a creek remediation and figure out a plan in a short amount of time. Because creek levels are low in July and August, the district was able to get the project completed quickly.
“In the beginning, I was incredulous that this was our responsibility to fix this, and then learned a lot about how creek bed projects work, whose responsibility they are, which agencies we would have to work with and understanding the significant change that went on in that creek and knowing that we couldn’t wait a long time,” Moritz said. “In the world of school capital projects and construction projects, that was a pretty fast turnaround.”
With a number of people, companies and agencies helping the district with the project including from Fisher Associates to George W. Jones Architects, the Department of Environmental Conservation, Army Corps of Engineers, D&H Excavating and adjacent landowners to CES, having everyone work together seamlessly was crucial to making this project a success.
“I think the agencies worked well together … and I found everyone to be great,” Moritz said. “I’m very grateful to our neighbors at Colden Elementary … they were great coming in and learning about this and giving us access to the creek through their property.”
While the creek will be monitored and the companies who did the work will return to check for issues and see if the plants are growing, Moritz is glad to see major work completed so the district can make sure the school is as safe as possible for students.
“Knowing that the equipment is out of the way and knowing the project is done and that we can concentrate on things like where we want to put up fencing to further protect the safety of our students,” Moritz said. “I’m grateful that it is done.”