City commissioners and property owners whose property abuts the drainage channel between Dickens Avenue and Claflin Road agree the erosion created from the excess water is a major problem. But that is where agreement ends.
Chad Johnson, senior project engineer for Olsson Associates, said at a work session on the issue that the best long-term solution is to reform the channel. He suggested the city put rock and plant vegetation along the channel to keep the stream from shifting and thereby arrest the erosion occurring along the banks. While it would slow down the erosion, it would not stop it or fix what had already been washed away.
Robert Ott, city engineer, suggested the 25 property owners and the city split the cost of stabilizing the stream. Johnson said the cost would be between $900,000 and $1 million to complete that project. That would average out to $20,000 per property owner, or about $1,000 a year for the next 20 years.
Since the meeting was a work session, no formal action was taken. But several property owners who spoke to the commission said they would not be willing to split the cost as proposed, and asked that more property owners be included in the benefit district. They specifically requested inclusion of the Candlewood development, which they said is the originating point for the water causing the flooding concern.
“It’s not the people living there that have caused the problem,” said Bill Shea, property owner. “We are suffering from all the building taken place up north, and that’s where (the benefit district) ought to take place.” He said the residents from Dickens south “are the victims” of that development.
Unlike a watershed district, which would include property owners in the 100-acre watershed that contributes to the water flowing through the channel, a benefit district created by the city would only include those properties that directly benefit from improvements.
Ron Fehr, city manager, said that historically the benefit district is composed of the property owners who will benefit from the improvements rather than the property where the water is flowing from. Fehr said benefit districts have been widened in the past to include property owners who would benefit, with the property owners farther out sharing less of the cost. He cited the Hudson Trail project.
Fehr also said most of Candlewood was developed without storm water detention. He said those properties near Farm Bureau already have special assessments attached to their properties for storm water detention improvements, and if the commission decided to include those properties, he suggested they look at those properties north of the channel who did not already have special assessments attached to their properties.
Larry Becraft, 3502 Highland Circle, said it would increase his taxes about 40 percent should the city decide to only include the property owners along the channel. He said if the city would bring in more people, it would significantly reduce that cost.
Mike Toy, 3212 Park Circle, brought up another concern. He said there is a black pipe running down the center of the channel. He said he thought that was a sewer pipe, and if a tree should fall on the pipe it would cause sewer water to spill into the channel as well.
Ott confirmed it was a sewer line, and said they were also looking into reinforcing the line along with the improvements to stabilize the channel.
Johnson said they would also like to build two detention ponds inside CiCo Park. Ott said the smaller pond would be funded by the school district and the county, but the larger pond would be funded by the city and cost about $1.5 million.
Commissioners agreed that development of plans and construction on the detention ponds should continue, but they said they would like to look at other options in funding the stream stabilization along the storm water channel between Dickens and Claflin.
Commissioner James Sherow said none of the homes in Candlewood should have been built without storm water detention improvements, and the current erosion problems stem from poor planning. He also suggested that one option would be to have the storm water fund pay for the improvements to the channel, although that would cause an increase in the storm water rates. That would mean the entire city would participate in the cost of fixing the channel.