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Archives for July 18, 2013

Superfund site nears final redevelopment stage

Picayune’s Superfund site draws closer to the redevelopment stage.

Soil on the property, contaminated by creosote where wood was treated at the old Picayune Wood Treatment plant from the 1940s to the late 1990s, is in the final states of being completely contained.

A Superfund open house was hosted by members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Tuesday and Wednesday at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.

The public was able to get a rundown of the Superfund project’s current status and what the future of the project holds.

All activity regarding the site between Rosa Street and Palestine Road, starting in 1999 through completion, has an estimated cost of $60 million.

The site comprises approximately 50 acres, including property for sale.

The most recent phase of the project has been to contain the contaminated soil from former industrial use into two capped cells.

Development of the containment cells has taken approximately 485 days and about 78,164 man hours have gone into this phase of the Superfund project.

Contaminated soil excavated has reached more than 137,600 cubic yards, said EPA Remedial Project Manager Michael Taylor. “The completed cells are capped off by two feet of soil and an impenetrable high-density polyethylene liner,” he said.

Soil brought from a local farm and used as fill on the site was once piled to a height of about three stories.

The highest point on either of the two cells is 14.5 feet with a downward gradual slope.

With that stage coming to a close, putting up a fence on the perimeter and landscaping are the only details remaining, said Taylor.

Groundwater testing and tracking will be an on-going effort for the next 10 years and two groundwater monitoring wells will be installed on-site to treat contamination.

Chemical oxidation will be used to remove ground water contamination from the most polluted areas and biological treatment, similar to sewage treatment, will be used in the less contaminated areas, said Taylor.

The surface soil contamination is maintained by the EPA for one year, after that, maintenance will be turned over to the state, said Taylor. “We maintain the groundwater for 10 years, then hand it over (to the state),” he said.

Ninety-percent of the project is funded by the EPA and 10-percent is paid for by the state.

In the future, restrictions will apply to building on the site that is now zoned as open space, OS-1. “Institutional controls will prohibit residential development and limit the types of construction permitted on the cells,” Taylor said.

Another restriction placed on the site includes receiving EPA and state approval to ever penetrate the concrete slabs that currently serve as additional soil-containment caps.

Superfund redevelopment and planning for the future of the site is the next center of focus.

“When getting near the completion of a project, it’s the perfect time to bring stakeholders together to discuss what they want to do with the project,” EPA Environmental Specialist Kyle Bryant said.

The property is currently owned by the state and is expected to be given to the city of Picayune.

In June, Bryant met with city officials and a grant coordinator. They solicited ideas from the EPA on different Federal agency funding mechanisms, said Bryant.

 “We’re at the stage of the project where it’s about cleaning it up and making it viable,” Bryant said. “This is a way to reinvent the city and making this site the focal point.”

Taylor has been talking to both the city and the state on the reuse of the site and says he could see something being put on the property for city use in 2014.

EPA contractor, Skeo Solutions develops plans for the city to consider for site use and realigns community goals.

“Funding to redevelop on-site is probably going to be key,” said Alisa Hefner, Skeo Solutions senior designer, on Tuesday.

With community consideration, open space opportunities are looked at. Specifically, trails and walk-ways in the short-term because they are less of an investment, said Hefner.

Bessie Means lives near the site and said she would like to see an all-purpose center placed on the property.

“Something recreational and for the kids,” Means said. “The more they do, the more they stay out of trouble,” she said.

Some of the ideas presented to the public for redevelopment included a dog park, outdoor theatre or a nature walk.

Early on, the EPA did ecological assessments and looked on the environmental side to see what wildlife has been affected, said Richard Hughes, Kemron Environmental Services regional health and safety manager.

“In 2004, 12 miles was investigated,” Hughes said. “It all checked out, and there was no ecological impact.”

There is a retention pond of approximately 2-acres in circumference and six-feet deep on the site that will eventually be used by wildlife.

“The site has a lot of potential,” Hefner said Tuesday.

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Marco Island City Council: Millage max set, bridge bids nixed

JIm Molnar of TY Linn, left, and Public Works Director Tim Pinter discuss bridges with the council.The Marco Island City Council met Monday evening, going over bids for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge, and setting a maximum millage rate for property taxes. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

JIm Molnar of TY Linn, left, and Public Works Director Tim Pinter discuss bridges with the council.The Marco Island City Council met Monday evening, going over bids for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge, and setting a maximum millage rate for property taxes. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

David Abercrombie pushes a plan to build a tunnel rather than a bridge. The Marco Island City Council met Monday evening, going over bids for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge, and setting a maximum millage rate for property taxes. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

David Abercrombie pushes a plan to build a tunnel rather than a bridge. The Marco Island City Council met Monday evening, going over bids for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge, and setting a maximum millage rate for property taxes. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

After Monday’s City Council meeting, Marco Islanders don’t know what their property taxes will be, but they know the maximum they can be. They have no clue, though, what they will pay for a bridge to go over Smokehouse Bay.

The seemingly endless saga of a replacement for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge consumed most of the time at the meeting. Where T Y-Lin International, the winning design for the project, estimated the cost of the proposed bridge, with a set of swooping arches, at $7.9 million, when bids came in, they ranged from $11.47 to $13.13 million.

Council members took turns beating up on T Y Lin vice president James Molnar and Tim Pinter, the city’s public works director, exchanging ideas and attempting to redesign on the spot the bridge, which has been in the works for five years and consumed $2,000,000 to get to this stage.

“I’m trying to salvage our $2,000,000 we’ve flushed down the toilet at this point,” said Councilor Ken Honecker

“Mr. Pinter, I’m expressing extreme dissatisfaction,” said Councilor Larry Honig. “We have $1,650,000 of alleged costs and don’t know what that is.”

Pinter, with occasional assists from Molnar, pointed out that landscaping came much higher than estimated, street lighting was not included in the original proposal, and the largest factor, an increase in steel prices of 100 to 500 percent. Behind these numbers is the resurgence in the nation’s economy and construction sector, with suppliers and contractors not as desperate for work as in recent years. Necessity for repair of the surrounding seawalls added more dollars.

Four years ago, the city held a design competition, with engineering firms vying to create a bridge that would serve as a signature and a showcase for the city, with architectural flourishes and public park space attached. At Monday’s meeting, councilors put forth ideas to create a Smokehouse Bay Bridge that will get motorists, and hopefully pedestrians and cyclists, from one side to the other as cheaply as possible.

“We’ve got two million in it. If we can spend $100,000 to slice three million out, that’s worth it,” said Councilor Amadeo Petricca.

Honecker proposed sending the bridge specs out to fabricators. “Put it out as a design/build, let them give us the best bridge they can, and take the lowest bid,” he said. Since the engineering firm had “screwed up a little bit, maybe they’d like to do a redesign for nothing,” suggested Petricca.

Public comment added more variety to the possible fixes. Touting his experience managing water systems, Jack Markel stressed the importance of performing due diligence. David Abercrombie suggested that rather than a bridge, the city create a tunnel under Smokehouse Bay, at a cost he estimated at $16 to $30 million.

Former councilor Bill Trotter said “it’s critical to keep this moving forward.”

“I always hated those arches,” said Kay Battaglia.

Finally, on a motion by Councilor Chuck Kiester, the council voted 7-0 to reject all bids received, including that of low bidder Zep Construction, whose principal also took questions at the meeting, and explore cost-cutting measures, with the aim of finding a less expensive bridge this autumn.

By comparison, the setting of the maximum rate for ad valorem taxes was handled expeditiously, although councilors were essentially unanimous in their opinions all evening, saving their wrath for staff and suppliers. Assessed valuations for the city’s tax rolls will be up $1.8 million next year, the council was told by Finance Director Gill Polanco.

The tax rate, which City Council can lower but not raise once they vote on proposed millage rates, was set by unanimous vote. Councilor Larry Sacher urged his colleagues to “give yourself more of a margin.”

Honig said that “2.07 gives up plenty of breathing room,” and that’s where it ended up. General operations mills were set at 1.96 with Hideaway Beach Special Taxing District millage at .1163, with those being the maximum levies allowed.

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New Burlington landmark is in place

Burlington’s newest landmark has rolled onto its perch near Alamance Crossing, where the New Leaf Society is proudly displaying a large piece of public art in its newly self-named roundabout.

At last year’s Willow Walk, the Alamance County Arts Council purchased and underwrote “Chasing the Wind,” a 9½-foot-tall bronze tricycle statue by Jeff Hackney, as part of its Public Art Initiative. The piece cost $10,150, of which New Leaf paid $7,000.

“Last week they finally got it installed,” said Cary Worthy, executive director of the arts council.

The roundabout was previously home to “Let’s Build it Together,” the egg-like sculpture by Michael Waller that’s since moved downtown. New Leaf Society has had new ideas for the site since last December, when Jim Davis of Sculpture in the Landscape scouted out the area.

Davis’ plan for the tricycle’s installation includes grading, landscaping and lighting, and a low rock wall to display lettering with “New Leaf Circle” – the name the Burlington City Council approved of renaming the roundabout in April.

Rett Davis, president of New Leaf Society, said Color Landscapes of Mebane installed the sculpture, and Living Landscapes of Graham has been contracted to maintain the circle.

“There’s Astroturf behind the tricycle that makes it looks like the path the tricyle follows,” he said. “So it’ll be green year ‘round.”

Davis said ornamental grasses and coleus, a broadleaf annual plant, will outline the path and Worthy said, “The plantings make it look like the tricycle’s going up a path and stopping on a hill.”

“And then there’ll be a bed of petunias put in front of the tricycle’s front wheel,” said Davis.

He said New Leaf Society has invested about $30,000 in the display, and in April the society told the council that rotating the flowers seasonally and the landscaping upkeep will cost about $2,500 annually.

“We’re trying to make it a landmark for Burlington, said Kelly May, co-chair of New Leaf’s technical advisory committee. “We hope people will reference that when they’re giving out directions.”

Davis said the plan was to have all the light installations, plantings and rock wall with lettering complete by Friday, but the display will most likely be finished Monday.

“That’s our hope,” he said. “I hope the community embraces it and likes it.”

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RHS Hampton Court Living Landscapes project "runaway success"

By Sarah Cosgrove
17 July 2013

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Clark Gardens, an oasis near Mineral Wells, is well worth the drive from Dallas

MINERAL WELLS — Clark Gardens Botanical Park is a hidden beauty that should be better known.

Gravel trails wind through 35 acres of blooms accented by water features, swans and a garden railroad. Nothing was planned on paper, says its executive director, Carol Clark Montgomery, so you might think it is a trifle disorganized. You would be wrong.

In fact, the beds are well-marked, logical extensions of the minds of Max and Billie Clark, the couple who bought the property in 1972 and transformed it gradually over the decades. To fully appreciate its arrangement, you have to view the neat iris beds, with named varieties planted in alphabetical order.

“When they purchased the property, it was such an unattractive piece of neglected land. It wasn’t even really farmland,” Montgomery says.

“We took an old pasture and managed to make it into something halfway presentable,” says Max Clark, Montgomery’s father.

Clark began by planting trees, then he landscaped around them; eventually he expanded landscape beds until more acreage was landscaped than not.

The gardens were more than a simple hobby. “They built it for their own personal pleasure and then, as it grew, it just became something bigger than them,” Montgomery says. The love of gardening and parkland followed. “It was a very accidental dream. It really did just happen.

“There was never an idea of let’s build a big botanical park and donate it to the community,” she says. “It was never like that. It was really built from the love of hard work and gardening.”

Eventually, the Clarks reached a turning point in their decades-long project.

“My parents realized that they had built something bigger than a backyard,” says Montgomery. The couple established the nonprofit Max and Billie Clark Foundation in 1999 and donated 143 acres, including the garden, to it. “Our task is to wean us off their money and be more self-sustaining,” she says.

Billie Clark died in 2011. Her husband, Max, still works 60 to 70 hours a week in the botanical park, much of it on his 85-year-old knees.

“Billie and I put together a stroll garden,” Clark says. “That’s all it is.

“Landscaping and gardening is what you’ve learned from other places,” he says. “We took an old pasture and managed to make it into something halfway presentable.”

Max is being modest. The roses alone are worth the trip; Clark Gardens was a test garden for the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service’s Earth-Kind rose program. It is also an iris demonstration site, with more than 3,000 irises on display, mostly the tall bearded type. Of course, the irises are particularly stunning during a window of about a month in the spring.

In May, Clark Gardens was awash in pink double, ruffled poppies. “About 15 years ago, my mother threw out a handful of seeds,” says Montgomery. Now, “we have literally hundred of thousands.”

The natural order of things is bluebonnets in bloom first, then poppies, then irises, then roses. In the summer, there are hibiscus shrubs, cannas and Texas natives.

In summer, “I tell people if they’ll just come and plan their visit for the morning, it is very comfortable until about 2,” Montgomery says. “And then about 2, I’d say go home.”

Fall brings asters and relief from the heat. The Christmas season features lights, Santa Claus, hayrides and more. (See for monthly listings of blooms.)

The lush surroundings don’t result from gallons of supplemental water in any season; water for irrigation comes from lakes on the property. Max was an early adopter of plants that thrive naturally, without a lot of watering, on his land.

Clark Gardens is an excellent place to add knowledge to your own repertoire by seeing identified flowers, shrubs and trees and absorbing landscaping ideas. Or just to enjoy a quiet day walking the grounds and looking for inspiration.

Montgomery’s informal polls show that only about 20 percent of visitors come from the Dallas area, and rarely from Dallas itself. That’s too bad, because Clark Gardens is a spot that deserves a lot more attention.

Visiting Clark Gardens

Clark Gardens, 567 Maddux Road in Weatherford, is north of U.S. Highway 180, just east of Mineral Wells and close to Mineral Wells State Park. The gardens are open every day. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $5 for children ages 5 to 12. Children younger than 5 are free. For more information, see

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Rich clients buoy landscaping in South East

By Matthew Appleby
19 July 2013

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Gardening Experts Offer Tips To Grow Your Own Edible Garden

NEW YORK (WLNY) – There are few things better in the summertime than picking fresh herbs and vegetables from your own garden — and doing so could even help you save some bucks on your grocery bill.

More: NYC’s 6 Best Restaurants With Rooftop Gardens

Chris and Peyton Lambton are gardening experts and the stars of HGTV’s ‘Going Yard.’ They stopped by The Couch to show us some tips for creating and maintain an indoor or outdoor edible garden this summer.

1)      Select herbs/fruits/veggies that are easy to grow and thrive – these include basil, rosemary, mint, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
2)      Be strategic about your containers – choose pots that can easily transition from your outdoor patio or balcony to your indoors in the winter months.
3)      Use proper potting technique.
4)      Be sure to give your plants fertilizer – just like people, plants need food, too.
5)      You can freeze your summer harvest (including pesto made with fresh basil, lemon slices, etc.) in ice cube trays and enjoy it all winter long.


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%name Gardening Experts Offer Tips To Grow Your Own Edible Garden

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Top Home Design Tips for Small Spaces: NYC Home and Garden Designer …

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NYC Roof Garden Design

A connection should exist between the interior and exterior of a home, so that the garden appears to flow outward as a natural extension of the inner space. It’s important to create a sense of rhythm and flow that is as seamless as it is beautiful.

New York, NY (PRWEB) July 17, 2013

As a NYC landscaper and interior designer, the challenges of designing for small spaces are a daily occurrence. There are sofas and planters that don’t fit through doors, unappealing views of neighboring buildings, and the need to maximize every square inch of real estate in the most attractive way possible. To help people who may feel overwhelmed by the idea of trying to design their own small spaces, here are a few home design tips to help get you on your way to designing like a pro.


A small space will feel larger the less clutter there appears to be. Having lots of individual, free-standing cabinets and dressers will sometimes make the space feel smaller and more hodgepodge. Consider having streamlined, built-in cabinets put in, instead, for storage of books, clothing, and other objects.


Let no corner go wasted in a small space. Make use of the vertical height of a room by having cabinets reach all the way up to the ceiling wherever possible. Choose furniture pieces that can serve more than one function. Murphy beds are an excellent way to make the space more usable for different functions — i.e. bedroom at night and office workspace by day. Mirrors can also help make the space feel larger. Opt for fewer, larger pieces of furniture, rather than lots of smaller ones. A connection should exist between the interior and exterior of a home, so that the garden appears to flow outward as a natural extension of the inner space. It’s important to create a sense of rhythm and flow that is as seamless as it is beautiful.


It’s interesting how groups of three objects generally look better than groups of two or four. For whatever reason, odd number pairings work better and stand out more visually than even numbered pairings. It’s easier to create symmetry in even numbered groupings, but odd numbers are more dynamic and visually appealing.


One of the most important influencers of mood in a space is the lighting. It’s important to have a mix of task, accent, and ambient lighting to make the space at once both visually appealing and as functional as possible. For an outdoor space, try to have a mix of high-voltage sconce lighting and low-voltage up-lighting mixed in with the plants themselves. For indoors, a mix of overhead lighting and soft, ambient lamps is usually ideal.


Long spaces can be broken up into separate “rooms” to help create a cozier, more intimate feeling. Terraces and decks can easily be divided up by having part of the space used for one task – i.e. dining, and another part for something else, i.e. comfortable lounge seating. A long living room might have a cozy conversational seating area, and a separate area for curling up on your own with a good book. Furniture and rugs can be placed in such a way as to create a separation of the different spaces for the feeling of multiple rooms all in one place.


It’s generally helpful to design a room or outdoor space with one dominant color in mind, along with one secondary color, and also a third accent color. If there is any existing furniture, choose colors that already exist in the largest patterns of the furniture. To make the space feel bigger, try using the darkest colors at floor level (i.e. wood floors or rugs) contrasted with light colored walls and furniture, with the brightest at ceiling level, much the same as the earth is darkest at soil level and brightest when you look up at the sky. Light colors will generally make a space feel larger than darker colors. On the other hand, dark colors will make a small space feel cozy — add some soft textured pieces like velvet or wool to make it even more inviting.


Contrast is one of the most important features of good design. Square and rectangular shapes often look more interesting when paired with one or two round shapes. Contrast can also be created by pairing high contrast colors together or by using textures that are quite different – for example, a fluffy white pillow on a smooth leather couch. Ask what the existing style of the space is and then bring in furniture and décor that mostly matches that style, but also don’t be afraid to put in a few touches that are a little different. For example, a contemporary loft with a lot of metal and clean lines might look more interesting with a few soft, round shapes mixed in for contrast.


Every well-designed space should have something that draws the eye to it right away. It might be a fireplace, a piece of art, a paint color, a great view, or a piece of furniture – whatever it is, it has star power and people can’t help but gaze at it. The focal point will also set the mood of the room as playful, formal, traditional, contemporary, artsy, rustic, etc. Don’t be afraid of using large focal points sparingly, such as a single large painting, in a small space, especially in a color that recedes (like blue) to make the space feel bigger. One large piece of furniture, such as a four-poster bed, can also make the room feel larger than it actually is.

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