Having just cleaned his pool this weekend, Doug Hauser stood in his backyard on Heavenly Way watching large, thick clouds of brown dust blow through the air.
His house backs up to DeBenedetti Park, which has recently been torn up to grade for the first stages of the park, which includes a drainage basin and three soccer fields.
With nothing to hold the dirt in place, Tuesday's winds, at times gusting at more than 40 mph, whipped up large dust clouds affecting residential neighbors and Ellerh Larson Elementary School, which has about 700 students.
While Hauser understands that the city needs to work on the park, he wishes they would do something, such as planting grass seed right now, to keep the dust down.
"If they don't start planting something when the rain comes, it will start eroding the soil again, and you are going to have to go back and regrade it again," he said.
Larson's secretary, Nancy Sheehan, said the school kept students inside all day, including gym class.
"Before school started, we already had them inside," she said. "There is dust and dirt everywhere."
The school contacted the city to see if there was anything the city could do, she said.
The city did respond to the multiple complaints by sending out a water truck in the afternoon to wet down the 13 acres next to the school's property line, said Steve Dutra, Lodi parks superintendent.
The city is working on the park in stages, Dutra said. It can be a hard balancing act because the city wants to provide a new park to the community, but in order to do that, the community has to also deal with the park's construction.
"The benefit to all this conversation is we are aware of the concerns and addressing them. … We hope the community will bear with us as we do the best we can," Dutra said.
The Lodi City Council voted in May to do the work to install the storm drainage basin and the three soccer fields. The park will eventually also include baseball fields and a neighborhood park.
This winter and into the spring, the city will plant hydroseed in the drainage basin to help stabilize the bank and also help control dust, Dutra said.
The city then has plans to plant grass for 15 acres of sports turf in the summer of 2010 with the fields being ready for play by spring 2011. Also, TreeLodi will be planting 200 trees next fall around the sports field.
While dust could continue to be a concern until the rest of the improvements are under way, the city will continue to have a dialogue with concerned residents.
"We don't control Mother Nature; this is an unusual wind occurrence. … We did respond appropriately," Dutra said.
While he is pleased to see the city making improvements to DeBenedetti, Hauser said it adds to his frustration that it has taken the city so long to start the project. He has been dealing with dust blowing over his fence in the winter since he moved in during 2003.
He hopes a park is built by the time he plans to retire and sell the house six years from now.
While he can't say if he would still move in if he knew the park would take so long to complete, he said he would have thought more about it.
"I'd think about whether I'd want to tolerate the nuisance of it," he said.
Winds continuing through tonightThere will be sustained winds between 15 to 25 mph, at times gusting through the 30s today, said meteorologist Carl Erickson of AccuWeather.com, a private forecasting service.
By the evening, the wind will drop off to more normal speeds of 7 to 15 miles per hour and then continue to weaken.
|Here is a comparison of the two wind events this month. The Oct. 13 wind event was accompanied by record rain fall of 2 to 3 inches in the valley.|
|Wind Direction||Gust (mph)||Time||Wind Direction||Gust (mph)||Time|
|Sacramento Executive Airport||Southeast||48||3:52 p.m.||Northwest||41||4:37 a.m.|
|Sacramento International Airport||Southeast||54||10:42 p.m.||Northwest||41||5:21 p.m.|
|Redding Airport||Southeast||55||1:14 p.m.||Northwest||30||12:46 a.m.|
|Red Bluff Airport||Southeast||53||3:51 p.m.||Northwest||35||1:58 a.m.|
|Marysville Airport||Southeast||53||5:23 p.m.||Northwest||43||4:14 p.m.|
|Vacaville Airport||Southeast||48||10:28 a.m.||Northwest||44||10:49 a.m.|
|Stockton Airport||Southeast||52||2:21 p.m.||Northwest||49||2:38 p.m.|
|Modesto Airport||Southeast||47||1:08 p.m.||Northwest||47||3:28 p.m.|
|Source: National Weather Service|