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Archives for June 11, 2013

Panel advances Haumerson’s Pond development plan to Fort council

A Fort Atkinson advisory committee has advanced to the city council development plans for the Haumerson’s Pond area and Bark River Nature Park.

The Fort Atkinson Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Monday heard a presentation from the Friends of Haumerson’s Pond, a newly formed organization seeking to rehabilitate the area that formerly was a center of city recreation, but increasingly has experienced neglect in recent decades.

Steve Mode, the organization’s founder, originally brought ideas for the redevelopment before the board in April, but he made a second presentation Monday because many of the groups plans have evolved since that initial meeting.

Mode said he envisions the complete site plan for the pond and surrounding area, once the site of a 19th-century brickyard, as a four-phase project. The Friends of Haumerson’s Pond, he said, will be spearheading the effort throughout all four phases and members have a continuing interest in the area.

“What we’ve tried to do is include the people who are going to have to maintain it and take care of the structure in part of the planning process,” said Mode. “We’re not going to build the building and walk away from this. We’re forming a non-stock corporation. We’re hoping to be like Friends of the Library, the historical society, because we have so much interest.”

The first phase of the project will include reconstruction of a warming shed, enabling ice skating to resume on the pond that saw more than seventy years of residents gliding across its frozen surface.

The proposed timber-frame building will sit near the edge of the pond and occupy a footprint of about 25-by-40 feet. Mode said he and another volunteer, Craig Roost, have designed the building to appear as if it could have stood on the site when it was a brickyard almost 100 years ago.

Construction in the area does face some challenges, as seasonal floods routinely raise water levels high enough to threaten the building; however, Mode said he doesn’t see that as a real impediment to the plan.

“To me, if we’re going to have a warming house for Haumerson’s Pond, it should be proximal to the pond,” said Mode, noting that he already has unofficial state Department of Natural Resources approval of the building site. “If we were going to put this where it wasn’t going to flood, we may as well get a cab from the watertower and head down.”

Current plans call for the building to be designed with three large garage doors to open during floods and allow water to run right through the building instead of expending city efforts sandbagging. Additionally, building materials below the 100-year-flood mark will be cream city brick and concrete to aid in cleanup, with no metal or wood appearing on the structure until well above the high-water mark.

Following construction of the warming shed, the second phase of the project will include the addition of several mountain bike and cross-country ski trails throughout the Bark River Nature area, as well as a disc golf course.

The improvements of phase two are contingent on acquiring Probst Field from the School District of Fort Atkinson, an open area which abuts the Bark River Nature Park and once was used as a practice facility for the high school. However, today, the school district rarely uses that area and the land is all but abandoned.

Mode said he and Scott Lastusky, Fort Atkinson’s director of the Parks and Recreation Department, have been in talks with school district officials about acquiring that land to add to the park.

“Jeff (Zaspel, who will take over as district administrator in July) is very excited about the project,” said Mode. “He thinks it’s more of a benefit for the schools to have us do what we want to do down here than to just have it sit, and I totally agree with him, because it really is just land that just isn’t getting used anymore.”

However, if the agreement with the school district falls through, it might mean the loss of the amenities that require that additional space, such as the disc golf course.

The third phase of the project would include rehabilitation of the pond itself, including a dredging project. Mode said this would come later in the development timeline because of application procedures permitting required by the DNR that could delay this work somewhat.

Finally, a fourth phase would see the addition of a parking lot for approximately 30 vehicles, along with landscaping around the pond and trailhead area to finish off the project.

Mode said that although the organization eventually would like to see all its plans realized, the keystone to the development is construction of the building.

“If nothing else happened, I don’t think Phase One would be impacted at all. We would get skating back, we would get bathrooms down there for the wonderful trails that are in, we would have a building that would be a very rentable facility that would generate some income,” he said.

“But conversely, I think that the others would be impacted if we didn’t have Phase One completed. If we put in a disc golf course, if we put in biking trails and cross-country ski trails, we can put those things in, but without having a trailhead or something like that, I think that those would be impacted,” he added.

Expectations are that Friends of Haumerson’s Pond will oversee fundraising and realization of the development plan, then turn it over to the city to maintain along with other city parks. Though Mode said he’s confident the community’s support is behind the project, the amount of fundraising that can be raised ultimately will determine the plan’s viability.

“We have this tsunami wave that’s beginning to roll and we have a lot of people who want to see it happen. I think the vote of this thing is whether people are going to donate to it,” he said.

Response from neighborhood residents has been mostly positive, and the organization’s Facework page currently reaches more than 1,000 people per week, but with many projects on the Parks and Recreation Department’s plate, there is a question about whether the city is ready to take on a project of this magnitude.

Talk of developing a city skatepark also has ramped up in recent months, and there was much discussion at the meeting about whether fundraising and development of both projects could be taken on simultaneously without straining the city’s resources.

Mode said he believed if the city voted to move forward on both projects, Parks and Recreation Department staff would be able to devote their full resources to the skatepark and leave his organization to handle the plans for the Bark River Nature Park.

“I don’t think I’m asking for a lot of time on this; it’s a matter of keeping city staff informed, rather than asking for them to do the legwork. We’re expecting to do the legwork. And I think that’s where the skatepark and our project are different,” said Mode. “We came to you with an idea, we’ve designed the idea with the assistance of people from the parks staff. We’ve involved three or four hours of their time, but then we’ve sat down with pencil and paper ’til all hours of the night putting this together.”

In the past, it had been suggested to include the skatepark in the plans for the Haumerson’s Pond area, but organizers quickly voiced their opposition to that idea, as they believed the noise it would generate would take away from the natural atmosphere.

The city council ultimately will have to green-light the project before any fundraising or development efforts can begin, and it is likely much debate will be given to the subject of whether the Bark River Nature Park or proposed skatepark should take front stage in the city’s efforts over the next year.

However, the advisory board voted to recommend the project to the council, meaning the issue will be taken up at a future city council meeting.

Mode, thankful for the board’s support, was adamant his group would see this project go through.

“Our whole mission on this is to have the community building, built by the community for the community. We have a long list of people who have volunteered to help with it. We have people who have volunteered to help do the trails, and I think that here in Fort Atkinson we have just a wealth of knowledge,” he said.

“We have a lot of people who love this community, who love this park, and to get them to invest their time down there …To me, I’d rather have somebody’s time than their money. Because they’re going to use it. They’re going to love it. So that’s what we’re trying to do:get as many hands involved in building this as we can.”

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Horticulturist to lead free garden tour at nursery

RAYMOND — A free guided garden tour with horticulturist Tom Heyer will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 15, through the private gardens at Garden of Eder Nursery, 5300 Highway K.

The property features a waterfall and many full-grown rare and special trees. The tour is suggested for conifer lovers or anyone looking for gardening/landscaping ideas.

A scavenger hunt will be held be held at 11 a.m. and free hot dogs will be given away.

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If your Lincolnshire property flooded, officials want to hear from you

Weeks after parts of Lincolnshire flooded following heavy rains, village officials want local residents to help them develop a prevention and response plan for the future.

Organizers especially want to hear from people who experienced flooding at their homes, whether it was due to water accumulating in their backyards or the Des Plaines River or a local creek overflowing its banks.

“We want to find out from everyone what they think we did right, what they think we did wrong and what they think we can do different,” Mayor Brett Blomberg said.

An inaugural meeting is set for 7 p.m. June 20 at village hall, 1 Olde Half Day Road. The meeting will be open to any Lincolnshire residents or business owners, as will any future gatherings.

The goal is to develop a flood hazard mitigation plan. The team will identify steps that can be taken to prevent flood damage and ways to improve safety during a natural disaster, officials said.

Blomberg is particularly interested in landscaping ideas that can help people keep their homes dry, such as adding bushes or berms.

“You’re building a mini levee around your home (with a berm),” Blomberg said.

Such steps could reduce the need for emergency sandbagging, too, he said.

As part of the undertaking, village officials will consider landscaping changes on town property, Blomberg said.

A public information program also will be developed. That effort will be designed to better inform people about the steps they need to take to protect themselves before, during and after a flood.

A flood insurance promotion strategy will be developed, too, officials said.

Village officials are not considering buying homes in flood-prone areas, as has happened in other communities along the Des Plaines River.

“We’re nowhere near that,” Blomberg said.

For more information and updates, visit

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Love Your Garden

Britain’s Got Talent live final peaks with a massive 13.1m/57% share, averaging 11.1m/51% between 7.30-10pm #BGTfinal

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June Gardening Tips

June is the start of summer and an opportunity to relax and enjoy your garden. Lawns lush and green and beds and borders full of colour.June Gardening Tips

The possibility of dry spells are increasing so a mulch around shrubs and spiking your lawn will ensure that as much as possible of the rain that falls, stays where it will do the most good.

As with hanging baskets, summer bedding, once planted, should be watered regularly to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Continue to deadhead flowering bulbs as flowers fade but leave the foliage to die back naturally to ensure a good show next year.

Mature deciduous shrubs such as deutzia, philadelphus and weigela should be pruned into shape as their flowers fade. First remove any dead, diseased or damaged growth and then remove a number of older stems at the base to encourage strong new growth.

Faded flowers can be removed from rhododendrons, camellias and lilacs. This encourages strong new growth as the shrubs energy is diverted from developing seeds.

June is the best time to hard prune overgrown lilac. Cut growth down to around 45cm from the base to encourage lots of new growth and give a much bushier and better shaped shrub.

If trimming hedges remember to check for nesting birds and delay pruning if necessary.

Remember to regularly remove weeds from beds and borders to stop them going to seed.

For more information please check out our Monthly Garden Planner at

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June Gardening Tips and Extreme Garden Makeover

It’s the 4th Annual McDade’s $1,000 Extreme Garden Makeover Drawing. Transform your landscape into a garden paradise. One lucky McDade’s customer will win the $1,000 professionally installed garden makeover.

The drawing ends June 30th. For every $20 purchased in June, your name is placed into the Makeover drawing. A $40 purchase receives 2 entries and so on – there’s no limit to the number of entries!

The $1,000 Prize includes:
$500 Shopping Spree at McDade’s Nursery
$250 Professional Landscape Installation
$250 Nature’s Guide Organic Products

Previous winners include Dave Davis, 2010 and Joanie Bechard, 2011.

The winner will be announced at the close of business June 30th.

The event is sponsored by Nature’s Guide.

June Gardening Tips

As summer temperatures start to rise, it’s important to monitor what’s happening in your garden. Here are important tips for the month of June.

Fertilize the lawn. Horticultural experts agree a spring, summer and fall fertilization schedule is the best and most effective treatment for lawns. Applying in early June, gives your grass the nutrients it requires to withstand the higher temperatures we’ll see in July and August

Change the Mower Setting. Move the cutting height of your lawn mower up a notch. Having a thicker lawn will require less watering and will keep the grass looking greener. You also don’t have to mow as often!

Water Efficiently. Watering the garden everyday causes plants to develop shallow root systems. A watering schedule of 2 – 3 times a week for longer durations is recommended, as it encourages roots to grow deep.
nsects and Fungus. At this time of year we see a dramatic increase in the number of pests in the garden along with different types of fungus. Be on the lookout for insect damage that can quickly destroy vegetable and flower beds. Act quickly by using an approved insecticide to prevent spread and further damage. Fungus can show up in your lawn (especially St. Augustine), on shrubs (like roses), fruit trees and in the vegetable garden.

Mulch. Protect plants and conserve water by applying a fresh layer of mulch. Mulch keeps the soil temperature cooler, keeps out weeds and retains water below the soil line. Cedar mulch is especially effective as it repels insects.

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Family team wins garden design contest by going back to nature

A FATHER-AND-SON garden design team from West Bridgford will take centre stage at BBC Gardeners’ World Live this week.

Creative Roots, based in Portland Road, is one of four winners of Metamorphosis – a garden design competition – and will get to showcase its designs in front of a large audience.

  1. Innovative:  Above, garden designers Neil and Keith Sutcliffe. Below, the garden that Creative Roots are building for the BBC Gardeners' World Live show this week.

    Innovative: Above, garden designers Neil and Keith Sutcliffe. Below, the garden that Creative Roots are building for the BBC Gardeners’ World Live show this week.

Keith Sutcliffe, who runs Creative Roots with his son Neil, will be challenged to create the garden designed by Neil out of a set list of materials and plants at the show.

Keith has over 30 years of building experience and is a trained stonemason as well as a skilled bricklayer.

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His garden will be 6x6m in size and will receive approximately £6,000 worth of materials plus funding of £3,000 for plants and associated costs.

Featuring three waterfalls, its theme will be “back to nature”.

Keith, who is building the garden, said: “Neil entered the competition with his design without me knowing and I was very surprised when he told me we were one of the winners.

“It’s great and a prestigious competition, so we are very happy to be here.

“Our theme is about getting back to nature and working with materials to see how man has had an impact on nature.

“We want to take this success and see how far we can go.”

Cleve West, multiple Best in Show designer at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is ambassador for the competition this year.

He said judging the entries to the Metamorphosis category was difficult.

He said: “It was a very tough decision to make as the quality of the competition entries was very high. The four winning designs really stood out for their innovative use of the materials, depth in design and clever use of space in a relatively small 6x6m garden.”

The show will be running at the NEC in Birmingham from tomorrow until Sunday.

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