Curt is Chicago native - but don't hold that against him. After stops in Madison and California, he moved to Waukesha in 2004 to open a downtown business.
As a construction manager, my typical work day takes me many places. Recently, I was at a job site in a city that will remain nameless in a state I will not identify.
While I was there, I saw a man taking pictures of a sidewalk that was cracked. The ground beneath it had washed into a canyon below and the walkway was in danger of doing the same.
He and I got to talking and it turns out that he worked for the city. They had sent him out to document the damage so it could be repaired.
From the looks of things, the sidewalk didn’t have much time left. A heavy rain could easily finish it off and as we discussed the situation, he informed me that the walkway had been like this “for a while”.
“For a while”?
His comment sparked my curiosity.
And so he enlightened me…
It seems that the washout occurred sometime last year and the city was notified immediately. Within days of the incident, a city employee was dispatched to inspect and detail the damage.
A report was filed and eventually it was added to a list of reports that the city reviews at the beginning of each week. The issues in these reports are then scheduled for action based upon their severity.
This report was labeled a “high priority” so a crew was sent out promptly to estimate the work involved.
After the crew inspected the damage, they called for a survey of the area.
The surveyor came out, took measurements of the sidewalk and the hillside, and then filed another report about the findings. However, additional survey work was necessary because part of the area in the canyon below was considered a “natural area” and could not be disturbed by heavy construction.
So the city called out a naturalist to study the location. During his examination, he found a very rare amphibian living in little burrows along the hillside. Turns out this little guy is a protected species and all further work at the site had to be halted until a meeting could be scheduled to determine a safe and tender way to deal with the lizard.
In the midst of the great lizard debate, a homeowner that lived in the subdivision along the other side of the canyon had noticed the many crews milling about and contacted the city to discuss the issue.
When he found out the details, he reported them to his home owner’s association. Of course they were furious about not being notified and immediately called the city- demanding a meeting (I wonder if the lizards had a meeting?).
While the homeowners understood the need to repair the hillside, they were adamant that the work should blend well with the natural environment. After all, their homes were in the direct line of site to the area in question.
The city had to draw up plans to be reviewed by the homeowners and those plans had to be approved by the city plan commission.
The sun rose and set many more times, rare lizards were multiplying by the day, and the sidewalk at the heart of all this debate was slipping ever closer to the edge. Finally, a plan was drafted and a meeting with the plan commission was scheduled.
The commission rejected the first set of plans. They were not pleased with the lack of natural foliage and the overall color scheme of the new concrete drainage ditch.
New plans had to be drawn up and weeks later, after a second review, the commission granted its approval, the homeowners agreed, and the project was ready to commence.
Only one thing now stood in the way…
Enter the lizard relocation team (via private jet). Not unlike the witness protect program, this group of individuals specializes in relocating native plants and animals to new places and setting up new lives for them so they can continue to flourish as nature intended.
And after many grueling days on the hillside, it was determined by this team that all lizards had been successfully evacuated and the city was given the green light to begin the repairs.
Crews descended upon the area, set up machinery, scheduled inspections, and pulled permits.
But when the first shovel hit the ground, they noticed something. The soil erosion had worsened since the first inspection and now the canyon wall could no longer support the original plan for repair.
Wow. What a bummer.
So the crews packed up and a meeting was held to discuss the next step.
One week later, they sent out a city inspector to document the damage so it could be repaired…