VALPARAISO — On Feb. 17, rain paired with snow melt caused Beauty Creek to go over and around the earthen wall keeping it out of an area that is currently under construction as part of the Vale Park Road extension. The fast moving water caused erosion along Beauty Creek’s banks and sediment rushed into the water, leaving it a muddy brown.
A foundation had been laid in the creek in preparation for installation of an 80- to 100-foot box culvert that would allow extension of Vale Park Road from Keystone Commons to the Beauty Creek subdivision at Windsor Park. Workers were waiting to receive the box culvert, which would create a tunnel allowing the stream to flow beneath the road.
The Vale Park Road extension is part of the 153-acre Brooks at Vale Park subdivision project. Located where East Vale Park Road meets Vale Park West Pathway, the subdivision will have 248 single-family units.
During a Feb. 28 Valparaiso City Council meeting, three residents spoke about the issue, all asking the city why more preventative measures were not in place.
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“That land never should have been developed in the way that it was,” Walt Breitinger said. “That land should not have been stripped of all its vegetation. … The destruction of the wetlands nearby, the disturbance of the highly erodible soils should not have occurred.”
Representatives of the Brooks development came before the Board of Public Works and Safety on Friday to give an update on Beauty Creek. Todd Leeth, the attorney representing the developers, said crews “have been on top of this since the date of the event.”
“We have soil erosion measures that are on the plans. Those soil erosion measures are in place, they are working,” Leeth said. “They are not perfect. Soil erosion measures, silt fencing, once installed is trampled down, it is removed by utility companies, contractors. It needs to be maintained, we are doing that. There are times where it’s not 100% perfect, but we are being responsive every time there’s an issue.”
Adam McAlpine, an engineer working on the project, said he conducts weekly sediment and erosion control inspections at the site. However, during the winter “when the precipitation is snow,” he pauses the inspections.
“I have since resumed it because we are kind of back and forth,” McAlpine said. “But generally speaking, when a construction site is dormant, you don’t need to go out and waste your time looking at silt fences in the middle of the winter.”
Materials are being delivered to the site next week, and McAlpine said within the next two months that section of Vale Park Road will start to come together.
City Engineer Mike Jabo said a rock check dam has been put in to control and filter the sediment, as were siltworms, a snake-like erosion control device. The city is also working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to monitor the situation.
Both Vale Park Road and the Brooks at Vale Park subdivision are being developed as part of a public-private partnership the city entered into to address ongoing flooding concerns in the area. Part of the partnership includes creating two detention ponds that will collect stormwater.
Leeth said that once the project is complete, many of the flooding concerns raised by residents will be addressed.
“We’re going to put Beauty Creek back. I mean you can’t look at any construction site in the middle of a construction project and expect it to look like a finished product,” McAlpine said. “We’re doing everything to accomplish the project responsibly. Stay tuned. The bridge is coming soon, and it will be a great benefit to the city.”
Resident Gary Brown spoke at the board meeting, saying the city and developers should have been prepared for the influx of water caused by snow melt “that happens in northern Porter County every year.” Brown said he visited Beauty Creek a few days ago to asses the damage.
“It sure doesn’t look like the verdant green grass under the towering trees that it was before this all happened,” Brown said. “It has only been changed because of the need for development of more homes. You’re trying to change mother nature, and man, mother nature finds a way.”