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Posted on: March 16, 2023

Springfield’s Jordan Creek daylighting featured in national publication


Smithsonian Science Correspondent writes “How ‘Daylighting’ Buried Waterways Is Revitalizing Cities Across America”

Springfield, Missouri’s “Renew Jordan Creek” project is featured in Smithsonian Magazine, in an article titled “How ‘Daylighting’ Buried Waterways Is Revitalizing Cities Across America.”

Renew Jordan Creek is a $25 million project to uncover 1,100 feet of Jordan Creek and build three Bridgebridges in downtown Springfield. The project area consists of two large blocks in the urbanized center of Jordan Valley Park, bordered on the east by Boonville Avenue, Water Street and the railway on the south, Main Avenue on the west, and Mill Street on the north. Later phases of the project envision improvements at Founders Park and the property at 404 N. Jefferson Ave.

The primary goal is flood control. But, like other daylighting projects across the country, the work has a variety of benefits, according to Smithsonian Magazine science correspondent Jim Morrison. “Native plantings will help improve the water quality by filtering storm runoff. The stream will replace what has become an unsightly, graffitied landscape and green space will become jewelry in a “string of pearls” connecting parks and green areas in the city’s ‘Quality of Place’ initiative.”

“The new way of thinking is to give the water some room, allocate the riparian area to floodings and just let nature be nature,” explains Public Works Project Manager Kirkland Preston in the article.  

Morrison points out that “the benefits go beyond mitigating flooding and creating soothing green spaces, too. Ann Riley, the author of Restoring Neighborhood Streams and one of the first proponents of daylighting, likes to say that ‘stream restoration is neighborhood restoration.’ 

“Proponents in the early days decades ago,” Riley says, “often were business owners who wanted to make urban areas attractive again.” 

Morrison continues, “The Springfield project may spur economic development and increase property values and tax revenue, something that’s happened in other cities. Returning the Napa River as the centerpiece of Napa, California, removed a requirement for flood insurance and is credited as a catalyst for $1 billion of investment in hotels, shops, restaurants and office space.”

In 1995, Kalamazoo, Michigan uncovered five downtown blocks of Arcadia Creek, Morrison writes. “… hidden for a century and used as a sewer. The plan was part of redeveloping the area, which had become depressed after repeated flooding. It came together through an alliance of citizens, local businesses and the city. The city issued bonds to fund the revitalization. A community college constructed three buildings, including a museum. A consortium of local hospitals built a cancer center, and a bank invested in a building. Historic buildings have been renovated. Restaurants, a hotel, housing and other businesses followed. A parking lot became a pond, the end point for the creek and the site of festivals. The $18 million public investment has yielded hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment, increasing the city’s tax base.”

Springfield’s Economic Vitality Director Amanda Ohlensehlen, has high hopes for Renew Jordan Creek. “Renew Jordan Creek will be a catalyst for economic recovery and investment that facilitates placemaking to provide a breathtaking place for families, downtown employees and visitors to meet. The project promotes downtown revitalization and opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses.” she said.

Link to Smithsonian article:

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 For more information, contact Cora Scott, at 417-380-3352 or 
[email protected]

Read the Smithsonian Magazine Jordan Creek article
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