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Spring Lake Park Green Infrastructure Wins Great Plains Chapter ASLA Award

The combined Great Plains Chapter ASLA annual meeting and South Dakota AIA annual meeting was held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Omaha Public Works, Omaha Parks, Recreation and Public Property and Big Muddy Workshop received a 2017 Award of Merit for the project. The sewer separation project is a component of Omaha’s CSO program. The design team for the green infrastructure included Big Muddy Workshop, SEH Inc, and Benesch. Kirkham Michael engineered the gray infrastructure.

Hanscom Park Playground Dedicated

The new Hanscom Park Playground project was dedicated on Friday, August 4, 2017. Mayor Jean Stothert, Park Director Brook Bench, City Councilman Chris Jerram, and Sonya Gray of inCOMMON, spoke at the event. Recognized for their professional contributions to the project were Pat Slaven PLA, ASLA recently retired from the Park Department, and Katie Swanson PLA, ASLA of Big Muddy Workshop, who was the project designer. Kids and parents loved the new equipment, including the custom-made streetcar, all fabricated by Landscape Structures.


As part of the Lithuanian American Community, National Council XXI, a tour, carving demonstration, reception and concert were held October 5 to acquaint members of the Lithuanian/American community with “Saules Takas” (The Path of the Sun) Lithuanian Folk Wood Sculpture exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens. Despite the rain, many Americans and Lithuanians turned out to see the Welcome Arch and sculptures at the entrance to the trail and garden.

The Lithuanian Folk Wood Sculptures trail is a grass-roots effort by the Omaha Friends of Siauliai Committee of the Omaha Sister Cities Association. Their vision is to bring create a variety of Lithuanian folk wood sculpture elements and themes created by a diverse group of carvers and metalists from Lithuania, that will adorn a designated trail in Lauritzen Gardens. In addition to the sculptures, the sculpture garden will include a Children’s play complex, wooden folk gazebo and decorative fences. Big Muddy Workshop is pleased to be working with the Friends of Siauliai and Lauritzen Gardens on the master plan for this project.


The Missouri Avenue / Spring Lake Park Sewer Separation Project received a 2017 Engineering Excellence Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Nebraska (ACEC/Nebraska). The project was submitted on the behalf of the City of Omaha by Kirkham Michael. The project is part of Omaha’s CSO Elimination Program.

Big Muddy Workshop, Inc. served as a green infrastructure design subconsultant to Kirkham Michael. Big Muddy led a “Green Team” of landscape architects, water resources engineers and an environmental scientist in evaluating and designing the green infrastructure features.

The project includes a broad range of green infrastructure features within Spring Lake Park that clean stormwater, enhance the park’s biodiversity, expand recreational opportunities and restored the Park’s namesake historic pond. The green infrastructure features have a construction value of $4 million.

The green infrastructure features include water-quality basins, vegetated waterways, an infiltration trench, a created wetland, a bioretention garden, restored stream segments, and the wet pond. The new pond serves an urban fishery, with an ADA compliant trail encircling the pond, that includes accessible fishing “hard points”. Green infrastructure features protect the pond’s water quality. Fish habitat improvements were incorporated into the pond. A small picnic area overlooks the pond.

Big Muddy facilitated public meetings and stakeholder discussions to engage residents, community leaders, environmentalists and others interested in the project’s design. South Omaha residents have embraced the completed project, and park use has increased significantly.


Ryan Bentley, PLA, ASLA was a presenter on August 29 at the 2017 StormCon conference in Bellevue Washington.

The presentation included a discussion about the general impact of green infrastructure within city parks, as part of sewer separation projects. General metrics were used to answer the question, “What overall effect will these parks play within the Omaha CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) program”. Conclusions made from the gathered metrics were:

-Nearly 26% of city park parcels within CSO drainage basins are (or will be) utilized for green infrastructure.

-Green infrastructure parks actively or passively manage 4.5% of the entire CSO drainage area.

-The green infrastructure construction costs represent less than 0.2% of the CSO program costs.

John Royster, PLA FASLA was a presenter at the Prairie Lakes Conference at Lake Okoboji in August 2017. The topic of his presentation was “When Did Rainwater, A Resource, Become Stormwater, A Nuisance?". The theme of the conference was “Working Together for Water Quality”.

For the 16th year, Big Muddy Workshop staff were Merry Bandits for the 2017 Shakespeare on the Green program. We Merry Bandits sold raffle tickets for quilts, a trip to Chicago, and Paul McCartney concert tickets, counted visitors and distributed programs.


Team Green, chosen as the winning team for the 2nd Biennial Great Plains LID Research & Innovation Symposium, was awarded the Cole Creek Sewer Separation project that the competition’s “case study” was based on. The competition requested solutions to a real problem in the Benson West neighborhood in Omaha, where combined sewer overflows are polluting Cole Creek.

Big Muddy Workshop was part of Team Green, which also includes Carollo, and Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig. Team Green proposed a tiered approach using a combination of new storm drain pipes and several Low Impact Design (LID) practices. It included strategies to educate home and business owners and encouraging to incorporate LID practices on their properties. The plan also included using LID improvements to spur community revitalization in the surrounding neighborhood. Omaha Public Works liked this proposed approach, and it will be used in implementation of the actual project.

The competition was held in Omaha, Nebraska May 7 – 9, 2016. The symposium was hosted by the University of Nebraska - Omaha Center for Urban Sustainability. Learn more about the Great Plains LID Research & Innovation Symposium and design competition at: