Cleveland embraces green

Cleveland embraces green

January 29th, 2013 by Paul Leach in News

Aerial view of Cleveland, Tenn., looking Southeast near I-75.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Cleveland has scored well in recent environmentally-friendly initiatives intended to protect and restore the city's natural surroundings.

On Monday, officials discussed the city's progress in establishing a new wetlands area near the Rolling Hills community and a couple of grants for improving Cleveland's "clean and green" outlook.

Cleveland's 20-acre wetland area, sited along "the back nine" of the Rolling Hills Golf Course, made great marks, according to a recent Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation audit, said Jonathan Jobe, the city's director of Development and Engineering Services.

"Good progress has been made now," said Jobe. "We had to regrade that area to get it to hold some water, to get it to turn into a wetland."

The wetland was created as a balance to wetlands lost from the construction of the new Cleveland Regional Airport, located in northern Bradley County.

With a detention berm in place to prevent the wetland from draining into nearby Candies Creek, TDEC has given the green light to the next phases of building up the wetland: planting trees.

The project will entail the planting of 4,000 seedlings, described as "not much more than sticks" by City Manager Janice Casteel. Only 400 of the seedlings are expected to mature.

After that, said Jobe, the city will revamp the old walking path that runs through the wetland area. Grounds maintenance will be limited to only a few feet within the wetland's perimeter.

Creating the right conditions for the wetland can also present the challenge of having too much water on hand, said officials, who cited a colony of Candies Creek beavers as a problem.

A wildlife technician has been employed to take care of the beaver problem, said Tommy Myers, director of Cleveland's Public Works Department.

In other business, the City Council approved the pursuit of a TDEC grant that matches every local dollar spent on a capital project that would utilize cleaner energy, conserve energy and improve air quality. If approved, the grant will go toward replacing the gravel surface roof of the South Cleveland Community Center with a new one made of thermoplastic.

The new roof, estimated to cost $150,000, is expected to save the city $16,000 a year in energy costs and will greatly reduce environmental emissions, said government intern Tim Passmore. In less than five years, the city will break even on the investment on a roof that has a 20-year lifespan.

The city has also been awarded a $55,000 "Clean and Green" Tennessee Department of Transportation grant, which will go to public awareness and recycling efforts along Cleveland's greenway.

A few personnel changes were noted during the meeting. Planner Corey Divel, who served in a similar capacity for Bradley County for over seven years, has joined Cleveland's Development and Engineering Services. Divel replaces Paul Corder, who assumed planning director duties in Lebanon, Tenn.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.