MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 3, 2013

Officials: Stem the floods

Stewart: Funding basins would slow flow

(Continued)

— Flooding problems on the city’s east side began to crop up in the late 1980s and early ‘90s with the widening of York Street. Commercial and residential development in the area along both sides of Chandler Road exacerbated the problem of increased stormwater runoff.

Stewart said a fee was assessed on commercial developers in lieu of requiring on-site detention projects. Assessed fees were used to purchase property southwest of the York Street and Chandler Road intersection for the purpose of constructing a detention basin, but the project never was pursued primarily because of the lack of a funding source.

“The city spent a lot of years without any kind of drainage review,” Stewart said. “We’ve corrected that now, but we have to go back and address the issues.”

In order to do that, Stewart said, engineers have conducted hydrology studies and designed plans to accommodate the stormwater runoff in the area. Plans call for the construction of two detention basins — one where the original basin was planned and a second one north of Chandler Road between North Anthony Street and North David Lane near Elliot Street.

The detention basins, Stewart said, would catch and collect the stormwater runoff. The collected water would flow through smaller pipes from there, reducing the runoff volume and the risk of downstream flooding.

Gene Speck, who owns rental property on Monta Place, said he is holding out hope city councilors will approve plans to move forward with the detention basin plans. He said the threat of flooding reduces the rental value of the house, and he has incurred additional costs of helping tenants protect their property.

“The house has never flooded, but water has been up on the foundation wall and inside the garage,” Speck said, noting neighboring property owners have described the runoff as a tsunami. “There have been times when you looked out and could see nothing but water — no yard, no street, no anything.”

The water inundates the block so fast at times, a double box culvert below Monta Place that is 6 feet deep or deeper is unable to carry away the stormwater. Stewart said it is rainfall events like those that tie his stomach in knots.

“Whenever we get a couple of days of rain in a row, my belly starts knotting up and this is why,” Stewart said, pointing out an area in a neighborhood northwest of the intersection at York Street and Chandler Road where flooding has been a recurring problem. “The phone calls are going to be coming in, and I can’t give them an answer they want to hear.”

Stewart said the proposed detention basins would go a long way toward alleviating the periodic flooding problems experienced by property owners both south and north of Chandler Road east of York Street. If councilors approve plans to move forward, he predicted work could begin as early as next fall.

The Chandler Road project, Stewart said, could take about six months to complete. He estimated the Elliot Street project would take six to nine months to complete once it is started.

“We’re eager to move on this,” Stewart said. “I want it written in the history books, so we can move on to something else.”

City councilors will convene the Public Works Committee meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday on the third floor of City Hall.

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

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