Even before questions arose over whether or not anyone other than Mother Nature is to blame for possibly dangerous runoff into Lake Wylie from a new Tega Cay school construction site, residents were aghast after seeing the property stripped of its trees.
Even Mayor George Sheppard said he took notice each day he drove by on Tega Cay Boulevard/Gold Hill Road and realized more trees were cleared. That’s not all he noticed, however.
“It’s shocking to me, but what else was shocking to me was the topography of the property,” he told the Fort Mill Times a couple of weeks ago.
The sloping – and now bare – landscape has the appearance of a natural conduit for storm water to stream its way toward the lake. Prior to the construction work the water would carry the sediment it picks up along the way, including animal waste and vast residue from human existence. That means everything from cigarette butts and spilled soda to bits of tire tread. That’s why work zones like the new school site are required to build retention ponds that restrict runoff from occurring. The ponds are meant to prevent exacerbating the problem by keeping stormwater from carrying the toxic matter associated with the building trades into local waterways.
If the pond at the school site is not performing up to standards as some people, including the local Lakekeeper, suggest, further investigation is needed and any mitigation should take place immediately. However, Charlie Funderburk, the city’s operations director, says he believes the ponds at the school site is properly constructed but that a recent rainfall was so heavy that nothing could have prevented some runoff from occurring.
That would be reassuring, but the soundness of the pond still needs to be verified.
In the meantime, Tega Cay, aka the “Tree City,” needs to confront the aftermath of clear-cutting the land. Not only do trees contribute to filtering the runoff after every storm and provide a variety of other environmental benefits, but they are one of the things with which the city’s residents identify; the trees are one of the things that residents refer to when talking about why Tega Cay is special.
Some residents who attended a meeting held by the builder at the Glennon Center to detail the coming phases of construction reportedly left unsatisfied about any future plans for the landscape and some said the public wasn’t given an ample opportunity to provide input. We hope officials have a plan to plant as many new trees as possible and will go the extra mile to explain to concerned residents what they have in mind. Certainly there are many people, particularly those involved in groups such as the Tega Cay Beautification Committee and Gardening on The Cay, eager to be involved.
It would be a shame if Tega Cay’s future didn’t include more trees around the new school and shortsighted not to make interested residents a part of the process.
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