Published on March 1, 2007 on Grunion Garzette
By Kurt Helin, Editor
A project that started out a decade ago as a way to help neighborhoods near Recreation Park stop flooding, and along the way forever changed Colorado Lagoon, is now coming back.
But this time, city and county officials hope the Termino Avenue storm drain project meets with approval from Long Beach residents. The second Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the storm drain project has been released for public review. There will be 45 days starting today (Thursday) and running through April 16, for people to comment on the project and report. After that, the EIR will be finalized with responses to the comments, then the EIR and the project itself will go through a series of approval hearings.
The project is an $18-million expansion of an existing storm drain that starts near Redondo Avenue and Anaheim Street. Largely running under the old Pacific Electric right-of-way, the existing older drain takes storm water and anything that flows into the gutters directly into Colorado Lagoon.
The problem is that neighborhoods served by that small drain — especially those west of Recreation Park and south of the Traffic Circle — suffered flooding bad enough to damage homes during major storms. The new plan calls for a much larger pipe — one that could handle the biggest storm in 50 years and will take that rainwater directly into Marine Stadium. However, when there is not a storm and the only water flowing into the pipe comes from “urban runoff” such as over-watered lawns or people washing their cars, that smaller amount of water will be diverted to the sewer system where it will be cleaned.
That is much different than the original plan put forth in 2000, which called for just an expansion of the pipe and still sending the flow directly into Colorado Lagoon. People who lived near the lagoon fought that plan, and eventually formed Friends of the Colorado Lagoon (FOCL). They sought lagoon revitalization; a process that has led to a master plan, grants and an ongoing process to improve that area.FOCL eventually sued and a judge agreed that the EIR on the first project was flawed and needed to be redone. In response, county officials scrapped the original plan and sat down with FOCL and other groups to come up with a proposal that worked better for everyone.
The result is a redesigned project and a new EIR to be reviewed. There will be two public meetings where residents can comment on the EIR.The first is from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. this Saturday in the Lowell Elementary School auditorium, 5201 East Broadway. The second meeting is from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. March 27 at the Jefferson Leadership Academies auditorium, 750 Euclid Ave.
People can download the EIR from the Web site of Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, www.knabe.com. It also is at the Long Beach Main Library, 101 Pacific Ave., and at the Brewitt Neighborhood Library, 4036 E. Anaheim Ave.