Richard "Kip" Patterson, a retired electrical engineer who lives on East Schreyer Place, soon will have a rain garden across from his house.
He said he feels city officials dropped the communications ball when it comes to the green-infrastructure aspects of Blueprint Columbus. The rain gardens now being installed across Clintonville, in an area mostly east of High Street, stretching from Glencoe Road to Morse Road, are part of the project; they work by filtering rainwater through layers of stone, soil and plants before it drains into the river.
But opinions on the matter run the gamut.
"I was very happy with the communication," said Deb Raita, who already has the "largest rain garden on the street" in front of her Glenmont Avenue house.
And so it goes for rain gardens, not only in Clintonville, where Blueprint Columbus is locating dozens of the installations as part of an overall program to keep sewer overflows from reaching the Olentangy River, but also around the country.
Eventually, 17 areas encompassing 18,000 acres around the city will have aspects of the $959 million Blueprint Columbus project implemented, including sewer-line repair and free sump pumps.
But supporters and detractors have butted heads locally and nationally over the safety, effectiveness and aesthetics of rain gardens.
"In recent months, bioswales have met the type of grassroots pushback that has been more often directed at power plants and waste transfer stations than at shrubs and trees," noted a March 23 story in The New York Times. "The opposition comes at a time when efforts to build the resilience of cities in the face of climate change is an urgent and international undertaking. And it underscores a perennial tension that has ensnared similarly ambitious environmental efforts, where wind farms, erosion-blocking dunes and solar energy arrays are viewed as unsightly."
The Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that focuses partially on environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest, points out on its website that many homeowners love the gardens, with their native shrubs and grasses -- but recognizes the existence of "small, but vocal, clusters of residents" that fight gardens proposed for public spaces near their homes.
Count Julie Karovics in the latter camp.
"I'm very 'pro' the idea," the retired former registered landscape architect said.
However, she is very "anti" the execution, Karovics said in no uncertain terms during a tour last week of the rain gardens already in place on Glenmont Avenue.
Karovics, who worked in the office of the university architect at Ohio State University, said several rain gardens are scheduled to be built near her home on Acton Road -- and she's not looking forward to it.
"Nobody builds stuff that looks like this in their front yards," the 35-year resident of the neighborhood said, glumly surveying one of the installations on Glenmont. "I've never seen so much laid on Clintonville as I have in the last year."
"I think they made a total mess of that street," South Canyon Drive resident Nancy Mast said of nearby Glenmont.
But "mess" is in the eye of the beholder.
"I thought it was an innovative solution to the stormwater problem," Raita said. "I think our rain garden is attractive, or it will be once they take down the orange construction fencing. Our immediate neighbors, at least the ones we've discussed this with, have all been in favor of the rain gardens. We don't have any animus against them."
Patterson said his issue is "the city's idea of communication is to stand in front of the public, fold their arms -- and I've seen it many times -- and tell you what they're going to do without regard to or interest in any input from you whatsoever.
"I see a situation where I can think of one other supporter that I know, and I put all that on the city and their inability to do a competent public-relations job and explain what's going on."
Jennifer Fish, director of Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation, which is home to the Central Ohio Rain Garden Initiative, said there may have to be some more discussion and "back and forth" before the issue is resolved.
"Anytime you change the right-of-way space, especially with something like a rain garden, which is different, there are going to be challenges," Fish said. "We certainly support them. I think green infrastructure, which is what rain gardens are part of, is a good solution.
"The more rainwater we can keep out of streams, the better."