MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 6, 2013

Councilors OK flood prevention design plan

Design for detention basins, funding option study to move ahead

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— City councilors gave administrators the green light to move forward with plans designed to alleviate flooding in two areas where problems have persisted for years.

Sitting as the Public Works Committee, councilors voted 8-0 to study funding options and complete the design of two detention basins. Both basins will be built east of York Street, one north and a second south of Chandler Road.

With a dedicated revenue stream available to repay a low-interest loan or finance a bond, an engineer said both projects — weather permitting — could be completed by this time next year. The estimated cost of both projects range from $4.1 million to $4.5 million.

Property owners in the Morningside neighborhood southeast of the intersection at York Street and Chandler Road lauded the decision. Gene Speck said with interest rates at historic lows and the near certainty of inflation of construction costs, it makes sense to move forward immediately.

“It would cost less to borrow money to get this done now than to let that fund accumulate, see more flooding and fix it later,” Speck said. “Interest is cheap. Inflation is still here.”

Stewart said any funding mechanism chosen would be secured by revenue generated by impervious surface fees. The fee is collected from owners of commercial and industrial properties, the amount of which is based upon the area of impervious surfaces at those locations.

The fee, Stewart said, generates about $396,000 annually for a fund dedicated to addressing issues related to stormwater drainage. When the graduated fee caps out next January, it is expected to bring in about $1.1 million a year.

Preliminary plans call for the construction of two detention basins — one on an 11-acre tract southeast of the York Street and Chandler Road intersection and a second one on a five-acre tract north of Chandler Road between Anthony Street and David Lane near Elliot Street.

The detention basins, Stewart said, are designed to catch and collect the stormwater runoff. The stormwater collected during heavy rain events would then flow through smaller pipes, reducing the risk of downstream flooding.

Clay McAlpine, an engineer with Holloway Updike & Bellen, said the basin designed for the 11-acre tract will feature a walking path around the top of the basin and a parking area for up to 17 vehicles. The multi-use design drew praise from city councilors, who are expected to give final approval Monday.

“I love this idea of making this a multi-use facility,” Ward IV Councilor Kenny Payne said about the idea. “Anytime we can do that, I think it’s a good idea.”

When asked whether these two projects should be given top priority, Stewart said there are several problem areas within the city limits. He said the completion of these two detention basins, however, should “take care of several of those problems.”

City Manager Greg Buckley said he will review available funding options and bring his findings back to the City Council. Councilors will have the final say on how the projects will be funded.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.