Posts tagged Tom Podzimek

Deconstruction vs. demolition: a green way to handle flooded homes?

Michael Richards, president of the Oakhill/Jackson Neighborhood Association, has been working on a “Good Jobs/Green Garages” effort since the floods. Some of that is detailed in an article in the Sunday, March 8, 2009, issue of the Gazette:


Here is more from Michael about those efforts:


   “We have added a very important layer of innovation and action to Good Jobs/Green Garages:

   As Neighborhood Assn. President, I have been approached by flooded residents in their 70s and 80s that do not have the time, energy or financing to Rehab/Rebuild.   We are pairing these elderly residents with former Metro High students that are now in their mid twenties, energetic, employed and ready to engage limited money with “sweat equity” to gain first time home ownership by rehab and retrofit of these flooded homes they are purchasing from the above noted elderly flood victims.  We have one rehab/retrofit  Next Generation Home Ownership project already underway in Oakhill Jackson.   We have also paired an elderly resident/ and a young new homeowner in Time Check to work with  this model of community recovery.

   My goal is this:  Create the working model. Then, if the City Government wants to get on board, fine, if not, well, we’ll keep working away to rebuild this city one step at a time from the ground up.”



   From Cindy, again: Rod Scott, who is also featured in the Gazette article, realizes not every flooded home can be saved. But he questions why so many that could be rebuilt are being torn down. He asks if it’s because the city is encouraging demolition, especially of homes in modest-income neighborhoods. Rod, who is president of the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, notes that many of the homes are structurally sound. “They’re just flooded buildings,” he said. “They can be cleaned up and rebuilt.”



   Cedar Rapids City Council member  Tom Podzimek added to the city’s discussion of sustainability when it comes to rebuilding from the floods in one area that hit home. For city gardeners, it might not be a popular idea, but a suggestion that has been proposed in the past would be to sell land that has city gardens – presumably the Squaw Creek gardens, as the Ellis area often floods – and allow developers to build private housing there. The tradeoff would be offering leased city gardens in the city’s new green zone, where flooded homes have been bought out and removed. “Why get in a car and drive five miles?” Podzimek asked, when the “greener” model would be having gardens located near the people who use them.

   Other ideas for the green zone have included soccer and baseball fields and dog parks. Podzimek said some residents want those entities in areas not prone to flooding, but he said it makes more sense to have homes and structures built away from flood zones and use the 250 acres or so of new green space for those “flood resilient” projects, such as ball fields.

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Will CR rebuild green?

   For a time Sunday, a panel discussion at the Environmental Film Festival was a panel of one. OPN architect Bruce Hamous made it to the showing at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, but City Council members Tom Podzimek and Brian Fagan were no-shows for the film, “Edens Lost and Found: Chicago,” about urban transformation, and their spot on the panel.

  Hamous gave his insight on LEED standards and sustainable building – or “smart” building as he’s come to call it, but he wasn’t in a position to answer some of the questions lobbed from an audience that had obviously been doing their homework. Many of their questions were about the city’s commitment to environmentally sustainable rebuilding after the floods. Podzimek did show up toward the end of the session, saying he had been working.  Fagan, contacted today, was apologetic.  He had the forum on his calendar, but for the wrong date.  

   Fagan said he really wanted to be at the discussion and noted that the city is absolutely committed to sustainable rebuilding. In fact, he said that the “Year of the River” concept should be broadened to the “Decade of the Watershed.” Let’s hope the rest of the council agrees.

   As evidence of the city’s commitment to rebuilding green, Fagan sent the following:

Here are links to the planning firms we are working with in our River Corridor Redevelopment Planning coordinated by Sasaki in conjunction with JLG.


Working with the city on facility assessment and redevelopment is CDM:


CDM’s city’s of the future podcasts can be found on their site or this direct link to the Knowledge Center:


Also working on site systems sustainability is Conservation Design Forum (Jim Padgett is a principal – and native Iowan – and I hope to have him come in and talk about focusing on the watershed in the near future):


On building systems sustainability is Arup:


Finally, and critically from a sustainability perspective is the transportation firm Parsons Brinckerhoff:


All are involved in plan review and as we move to the next phase and talk about neighborhood development and strengthening, I would like to see us continue to work with these firms, Fagan wrote.

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