MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 3, 2013

Officials: Stem the floods

Stewart: Funding basins would slow flow

— “It just rolls down the street when it rains, and it’s just awful — it’s scary, too.”

That’s the way Louella Arnold describes the scene on the street in front of her house after a heavy rainfall. Her Monta Place home has flooded three times during the past few years, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

“The last time we had to redo our den. ... My husband’s car was flooded, and it gets pretty expensive,” said Arnold, who has lived in the neighborhood about 42 years. “I wish something could be done — it gets expensive trying to replace all the stuff that gets ruined when it floods.”

Help may be coming for Arnold and other property owners who have experienced similar problems with flooding on the city’s east side. Public works officials plan to make another push for the construction of two detention basins that would slow the flow of stormwater during heavy rain events.

Public Works Director Mike Stewart said now is the time to implement the provisions of a comprehensive drainage plan that has been in the works for years. Stewart estimates the project, which would include the construction of two detention basins and concrete drainage channels, would cost about $5 million to complete.

That funding, Stewart said, could come from impervious surface and stormwater fees assessed to address drainage problems and similar issues. While the fund is insufficient to fund the flood control projects, Stewart said it is a dedicated revenue stream that could be used to repay a loan or issue a bond to fund construction of the proposed projects.

Stewart said he will present his proposals Tuesday to city councilors during the Public Works Committee meeting with the hope they will approve plans to move the project forward. Clay McAlpine, an engineer with Holloway Updike & Bellen who has been involved with the project design, said financing the project now “makes good economic sense under the circumstances.”

“Obviously, we are in a unique environment where interest rates are at historic lows,” McAlpine said. “Construction costs will go up, so it makes sense to borrow the money and do it right now instead of waiting until the money is available.”

Stewart said in addition to the potential savings of moving forward immediately, resolving the problems that create present flooding problems could open up land for future development.

“It creates the potential of taking some of these infill lots that cannot be developed now and creating property that can be used because it doesn’t flood anymore,” Stewart said. “Of course they (developers) would have to plan for some type of detention for whatever development is done.”

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