City To Restore Part Of Fassnight Creek To A Natural Stream

Nov 21, 2019

Fassnight Creek West of the Springfield Art Museum
Credit Michele Skalicky / KSMU-Ozarks Public Radio

Fassnight Creek meanders along the south side of Phelps Grove Park along Brookside Dr.  It comes from underground at Linwood Circle near the Springfield Art Museum and runs west.

That section of the creek is concrete, but plans are in place to make the part from about Kings Ave. on the west to just east of the museum more natural.

Chris Dunnaway, principal stormwater engineer for the City of Springfield, said the project came about when FEMA began redoing the city’s flood plain maps about three years ago.  The new maps, which haven’t yet been adopted, would extend the flood plain to the east side of the art museum.  The flood plain now stops just to the west of Jefferson. 

"When they mapped the new flood plain, and it hasn't been adopted yet, but they released the preliminary maps last year showing that part of the art museum was at risk for flooding, and so that's kind of raised some eyebrows over here, and that's when we realized that we need to something," said Dunnaway.

At the same time, the museum was developing its master plan and was able to incorporate the changes to the creek in it.

While Dunnaway calls the current system, “a very efficient channel,” it’s not big enough, and driveway culverts obstruct the flow.

"We kind of wanted to do something more natural like South Creek and what we've done in other parts of  town to also improve water quality," he said.

Specifically, the project will look similar to what’s been done to South Creek between Campbell Avenue and Kansas Expressway.  They’ll take out the concrete and put in a natural substrate bottom and vegetated slopes, said Dunnaway. 

Most of the giraffe-patterned rock walls in that section will likely be removed, but he said they’ll try to incorporate them into the project in some way, "just to kind of, you know, hold on to some of that historical character."

They’ve learned that the walls in that section of Fassnight Creek weren’t part of the WPA project like others further downstream but were done later, said Dunnaway.

Not only is the project expected to help with stormwater control, but he said it should improve the water quality of the creek, which feeds into Wilson’s Creek, a waterway that’s on the Missouri Department of Natural Resource’s 303d list of impaired waterways because of nonpoint source pollution.

The cost is expected to be around $1.8 million.  The city has applied for grant money from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and from the Missouri Department of Conservation to help fund the project. 

Dunnaway said they’ve hired an engineering consultant in Springfield to begin design, and they expect to announce the bidding process early next year.