MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 3, 2013

Roadblock to fighting flooding gone

Buckley says impervious surface fees key to change

— More than four years have passed since Public Works Director Mike Stewart unveiled a plan to address flooding problems on the city’s east side.

The plan, estimated at the time to cost $6.4 million, addressed stormwater drainage in an area bounded on the east and west by Country Club Road and York Street and the north and south by Gibson Street and Chandler Road.

Stewart said he has presented the plan to city councilors every year since during their annual budget retreat. Every year, Stewart said, the plan has been left on the table.

City Manager Greg Buckley said the lack of funding delayed the immediate implementation of the plan. Buckley said that financial road block has been removed.

“That is when we started talking about the impervious surface fees,” Buckley said. “We talked about that for two years before it was passed, and now its gradually accumulating some money, and it has created a revenue stream we can use to do that.”

Buckley said that revenue stream and the funds accumulated can be used to secure a low-interest loan or issue bonds to finance the flood control projects. Buckley said either way would allow the projects to move forward faster and “have an impact today” rather than later.

“The last couple of years we have been lucky,” Buckley said about the drought that seems to have settled across the state. “But that is cyclical, so it’s just a matter of time before we see more flooding.”

Funds from the impervious fee fund has been tapped to build a detention basin on the west side of Civitan Park, a component included in the plan unveiled by Stewart in 2008. The Civitan Park project, which was completed in 2012, was built first primarily because of its lower price tag. But Stewart said it is a major piece of the puzzle and already has helped ease flooding concerns.

The two main components in the plan Stewart will present Tuesday during the Public Works Committee meeting include the Elliot Street improvement project and the Chandler Road detention basin.

The Elliot Street basin consists of 140.47 acres, 68 percent of which has been developed primarily for residential neighborhoods. Stewart said the undeveloped property is suitable for single- and multi-family residential development.

The area surrounding the proposed Chandler Road detention basin, which would include a soft trail around its perimeter if it is built, is made up of 187.5 acres, which is about 85 percent developed. A small, undeveloped area east of the proposed detention basin is zoned for multi-family residential development.

Stewart said while there are other areas in the city where flooding is a periodic issue, the potential for property damage because of flooding is higher than other areas. Other problem areas, Stewart said, primarily impact transportation. Stewart said those factors went into the decision of prioritizing the needs to be addressed.

“It’s always been our attitude that we don’t move the problem to somebody else,” Stewart said about the flood control planning decisions. “We need to fix it where it is at, but you can’t fix everything at once — you have to pace yourself and prioritize. That is what we are looking for the City Council to do.”

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

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