Retention basin maintenance bothers Williamsburg Square business owner

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com | geans@messenger-inquirer.com The retention basin that runs behind the Williamsburg Square strip mall, across Dieterle Drive and on the north side of Owensboro Christian Church is shown Tuesday with weeds and pond scum.

When Charlie Boone looks out the front door of his business in Williamsburg Square, he sees the south end of a large water retention basin that runs nearly the length of Sunrise Drive.

Cattails grow in places along the water's edge. Large patches of lime-green algae float across the basin. And grass and weeds grow tall in at least one spot around a chain-link fence not far from the entrance to his business, Nature's Garden, which sells herbal supplements.

Besides Nature's Garden, Boone's wife, Pauline, operates Alternative Therapeutic Massage in the same suite on the south end of Williamsburg Square. Their daughter, Melissa Mattingly, shares the office suite with her parents. Mattingly also offers massages at Melissa Mattingly L.M.T.

Pauline Boone remembers when one of her clients found a snake in the parking lot.

"She said she would never be back," Pauline Boone said.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Charlie Boone found a snake under his vehicle.

The Boones feel the city should do a better job of maintaining the Williamsburg Square Basin and the Dixiana Basin, which sits just across Dieterle Drive from their business. The Dixiana Basin follows the parking lot on the north side of Owensboro Christian Church and flows behind the church.

The Dixiana Basin is largely covered in algae, too.

"It's a disgrace to the city," Charlie Boone said of the Williamsburg Square Basin. "I've been on them about trimming it and mowing it. It's an eyesore. People don't want to look at that when they come in to get a massage."

His family has been in business at the mini-mall for about 20 years. The basin was completed about seven years ago.

He wonders why fountains weren't installed when the retention basins were constructed. Fountains aerate water, which helps keep pond scum from forming.

Also, the retention basin attracts beaver, muskrats, snakes and turtles, Charlie Boone said. It's a haven for mosquitoes, too.

"There's no telling what's in there," he said.

Charlie Boone feels like the city has spent lots of money revitalizing downtown at the expense of other parts of the city. "I want them to clean up this mess."

Public Works Director Wayne Shelton said his department has looked at ways of addressing the algae in retention basins around town.

Chemicals are expensive and can affect wildlife.

Retention basins are too shallow for fountains. During low intake periods, they stand between 3 and 5 feet deep, and fountains need deeper water.

"People look at these like they are lakes," Shelton said. "They are not."

There are other problems with fountains in retention basins. They are pricey and can be expensive to maintain. Also, each one would have an electric meter.

"Someone has to pay that monthly bill," Shelton said.

When city officials get complaints about mosquitoes in the area, they treat basins with larvicide, and city crews mow and trim basin areas every four to five weeks on average, he said.

"We try to be responsible neighbors," Shelton said.

The Williamsburg Square and Dixiana retention basins are part of the Harsh Ditch watershed mitigation project that was done during former Mayor Ron Payne's administration.

"Some people have forgotten how bad flooding was over there," Shelton said. He remembers wading through knee-deep water in the Veach Road area before the retention basins were built.

Residents call city officials from time to time concerning issues they have with basins throughout the city, he said, but the number of calls is not excessive.

"As they complain, we will listen and work to resolve (the complaints) to our best means with the budget we have available," Shelton said.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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