sunks saved

Some supporters of the Dundee Sunks destruction project have spread misinformation. We need to provide a simple page with The Facts. Details are from published plans of the developers themselves, official Omaha city documents and the historical record. Citations below and copies available upon request.

Just the facts...

Fact #1: What is affected?
The entire three-block area of the Sunks will be affected in some way. At least 40% of the natural green space will be lost to concrete, hardscape, patios, walls, permanent structures and other massive changes. The southernmost end will be retrofitted with irrigation (unnecessarily), the northernmost will lose trees and be graded. The greatest damage will occur in the middle 40%.1

Fact #2: Trees will be cut down.
The mature, healthy trees (up to 20) in the Sunks proper will be removed to make way for the permanent concrete, stairways, structures, walls, etc.1,2

Fact #3: Violation of historical intent and current guidelines.
The historical record is clear: the intention of the original designers, maintained since the 1890s and reinforced by the 2013 City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department Guidelines3 declare that the Boulevards should remain as greenspace with the first principle: "Preservation of existing trees is paramount." The radical plan will remove up to 20, destroying the shade canopy in the Sunks. Other city guidelines are violated by the developer plan (curb cuts, retaining lawn, etc.1,2,3

Fact #4: Maintenance, upkeep, repairs and liability.
The developers have not made public any document of governance that confirms a plan to provide maintenance or other issues; beyond inconclusive statements about establishing an endowment. Just the removal of graffiti, already an expensive problem throughout Dundee, will be a massive expense.4

Fact #5: Parking and traffic problems.
Neighborhood concerns about parking have not been adequately addressed. The Boulevard along the Sunks sees over 6,000 cars daily; the southern intersections at Underwood over 30,000 (City published averages from 2006, 2008 & 2011)3. Increased traffic will present a safety issue and visitors to the destination will congest parking on residential sidestreets.

Fact #6: Weddings, concerts & events.
Original plans published by the developers5 and media interviews with them6 touted the project as a space for events, presenting severe parking, traffic and noise problems. The developers have since claimed they will no longer support events in the space but have not provided the document of assurance promised in an October 11, 2017 meeting at City Hall.

Fact #7: Pesticide & Weed Killer
Plans published by the developers, confirmed by the primary designer, Big Muddy, confirm that pesticides will be sprayed in the Sunks. At present, the City does not use pesticides on any kind of schedule in the Sunks.7

Fact #8: Stormwater Runoff
The Sunks is actually a creekbed covered with greenspace. When it rains, the lawn and greenspace absorb water relatively efficiently. No detailed plans have been published to address the hydrological impact of placing hardscape in a section making up 40% of the Sunks.

There's more: Published plans, documents and noted conversations support the facts that lighting could be installed, noise pollution will increase, greenspace will be lost, soil will be destroyed and the historical integrity of a Boulevard System that is registered with the National Park Service as a Historic Place will be shattered.8

There are many other problems with this ill-conceived project that could be perceived as subjective — such as the philosophy against overdevelopment — and we promised just the dumb, hard facts. Now you have them.

The leaders of the construction proposal appear to be well-intentioned, good-hearted folks. Sometimes good people have bad ideas.
Many residents have encouraged the proponents to direct their talents and resources to a more appropriate goal, so far to no avail.

If you want the Sunks to remain as a beautiful greenspace, either as it is or perhaps slightly improved with some flower beds and grooming, let Councilman Pete Festersen know that you would like him to withdraw support for this version of a very bad plan. Email him here.


1) Developers' published plans on hardcopy documents and websites.

2) Physical inspection and census

3) Omaha's Historic Boulevard System Master Plan, Page 4 ff.

4) Notes from Dundee-Memorial Park Association Board Meeting, 2017.11.13

5) Hardcopy brochure and other documents

6) Omaha World-Herald article, 2016.02.01

7) Notes on phone conversation with City Parks Dept. head



Today in the Happy Hollow


Developers and designers, some from outside Dundee, sought to destroy all of the central tree canopy, much of the greenspace and replace it with permanent structures, hardscape, walls and more that will disrupt the neighborhood and contradicts the very plans the City has long maintained.



Who wants to Save the Sunks? Click here.

© 2017-2018 - Efforts to preserve Omaha's Sunken Gardens greenspace along Happy Hollow Boulevard in the Dundee neighborhood