Something rotten under McKinley Park?

Iconic ‘Lady Bird’ setting slated for massive sewage and storm drain system

The city of Sacramento is facing a new lawsuit that was filed after it approved an environmental report for a sewage and stormwater facility to be built under McKinley Park.

A group calling itself Citizens for a Safe & Sewage-free McKinley Park brought the legal action November 9. It’s seeking undisclosed damages, according to county court records.

The project, which the city intends to break ground on in May, would include a 300-foot-long, 240-foot-wide storage facility capable of holding as much as 1 million cubic storage feet of sewage and stormwater under the historic park. The vault would be some 20 feet underground, according to a report by city.

Officials have promised to restore the park after construction.

Sacramento Utilities Director Bill Busath told SN&R that he’d just learned of the lawsuit, but that the city intends to move forward with its design. Busath added that city staff analyzed four to five alternative sites, but that McKinley was the most cost effective. He estimated the project’s total price tag at $35 million.

Busath had touted the project to City Council, leading to a 5-0 vote to approve its environmental report on October 9.

“This McKinley vault is the most cost effective and efficient way to solve the flooding issues in the neighborhood,” Busath told council members. “This project, as you can see, responds to a real and immediate problem.”

East Sacramento resident Will Green has been leading the opposition to the sewer vault. He said a better solution for the city would be separating its antiquated, combined sewer and storm drain systems. Green called the McKinley Park project “the mother of all water sewer vaults.”

Green also said Councilman Jeff Harris told residents last year that their utility bills would increase by 300 percent if they didn’t approve the sewer project.

“We’re not a neighborhood that likes that very well,” Green said.