A wetlands project along the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail the city is proposing would add more recreational opportunities to the area near the Scott Boulevard trailhead — two wetland pools, new trails that provide access to the pools and a deck overlooking the larger one.
"It will be a beautiful place for people to go observe nature," said Mike Snyder, the Parks and Recreation Department's park planning and development superintendent.
"It will have walking trails for recreation, and it will also provide a place for wildlife."
The smaller pool will be about 2.9 acres in size, and the larger one would cover 6.7 acres. According to the proposal, the location of the pools was based in part on preservation of quality trees in the area and the flow of water through the property.
Plans also include a long boardwalk with a 15-foot-by-20-foot lookout deck in the center. The boardwalk would include bench seating with views of the wetland pools.
According to the plan, spurs would be added to the MKT Trail for easy access to the site.
According to the July 6 staff memo for City Council members, the project will serve trail users and also improve the nature corridor for urban wildlife and stormwater collection for runoff.
Man-made wetlands are able to divert municipal or industrial wastewater, grey water or stormwater runoff into such recreation areas. Wetlands can also serve as a mitigation step for natural areas lost to land development.
Pools can be engineered to serve as a natural way to clean wastewater by using vegetation, soil and organisms as a filter.
This wetlands project will help prevent stormwater from going directly into Hinkson Creek and help reduce the volume of water in the creek, which can reduce flooding.
Wetlands can also be a beneficial way to keep the environment healthy by preventing chemicals and other undesirable substances from reaching the creek.
Snyder gave an example: "If you have a parking lot and a car parks in it and the oil drips from the car onto the asphalt, the next time it rains that oil goes directly into the stream.
"If it goes into a wetland first, that oil has a chance to be filtered by the plants in the wetland to clean the oil before it goes into Hinkson Creek."
The wetlands project is estimated to cost $120,000. The budget includes $80,000 from the park sales tax and a $40,000 donation from Tom and Anne Smith.
The donation and construction of the boardwalk will be in remembrance of their son with a plaque for him at the entrance of the walk.
In the past, the Smiths donated $2 million to the MU School of Medicine to create the Tom and Anne Smith MD-PhD Program, the Missourian has reported.
Snyder said there is no planned start or completion date for the project. August would be an ideal time for the project because the weather is typically dry, he said. The work will be done by contract labor and park staff.
"We're always trying to do restoration ecology-type projects to not only provide habitat for wildlife, but also reduce the volume of stormwater that's going directly into our creeks and create recreational opportunities for the citizens," Snyder said.
A public hearing about the wetlands project has been set for 7 p.m. Monday during the City Council meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall.