The natural process of stream bank erosion is no more evident in Pickerington than behind the city-owned Community Gardens off state Route 256, where a house overlooking Sycamore Creek in the Shawnee Crossing subdivision appears in danger of completely losing its back yard if corrective action is not taken to rebuild an eroded stream bank.
To that end, the city of Pickerington is set to embark on what is called the "Shawnee Sycamore Creek Bank Stabilization Project" to restore the failing stream bank, stabilize the eroded area and protect the house and its backyard.
"The project will also open up additional flood plain area which will lessen the chance of flooding and erosion downstream of this project," said City Engineer Greg Bachman.
The issue with Sycamore Creek came to his attention back in 2009, Bachman said, "not too long after I became city engineer.
"We then applied for grant funds, we got the grant in 2011, and then we tried to come up with matching funds for the grant."
Bachman said the stabilization project will have an estimated cost of $236,002, with an Environmental Protection Act (EPA) grant providing $139,537, about 60 percent of the cost. He said Pickerington's matching share is $96,465.
"The project is to be bid and constructed this year," Bachman said. "A contractor will be chosen after the project is bid."
For now, the city will hire a contractor to clear the trees located behind the Community Gardens and adjacent to Sycamore Creek.
City Service Director Ed Drobina said the tree removal, which will be completed by April 15, is necessary because "we'll have to get the big backhoes back here and the loads of stone."
Drobina said there are several ash trees in the spot that, because of potential infestation from the Emerald Ash Borer, would have to come down anyways.
He said the Community Gardens will not be closed for the tree removal, essentially a moot issue given the adverse early Spring weather.
The land is city property, deeded to Pickerington by the developers of Shawnee Crossing.
Bachman described in detail the stream bank stabilization process. He said the stream bank will be restored by placing gabions, which are baskets filled with rock, at the toe of the slope up to a height of 7 feet.
He said the remaining slope will be back-filled at a 2:1 slope (meaning two foot horizontal to one foot vertical), "with earth and native plantings to reduce future erosion."
Because the stream channel has pushed itself too far to the right, Bachman said contractors will also excavate and recreate the channel.
With the state Route 256 Storm Sewer project completed last February, Bachman said the Shawnee Sycamore Creek Stream Bank Stabilization Project is next on the priority list for city capital improvement projects.
"Erosion occurs naturally, not always where you intend it to happen," Bachman said. We're just trying to slow up nature."