Residents seek help to reduce flooding

CROTHERSVILLE

Crothersville officials aren’t the only ones hoping the town receives grant money to improve stormwater collection along Hominy Ditch.

A few residents living in the Park Avenue area also hope the town is successful so they don’t continue to have flooding issues after a big rain.

Joe Seal and Alice Monroe, who both live in that area, recently asked the Crothersville Town Council if anything is being done to prevent flooding in and around their homes.

Council President Ardell Mitchell’s response was related to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs disaster recovery grant application, submitted in September.

“We’ve made the submission. Now, we wait and see,” Mitchell said. “If that project doesn’t get funded, I don’t know what the next step is. We’ll leave that for next year’s council. But this council has got this project and the ball rolling, and we think we have a real good story to tell. So we think we’re a good candidate for funding.”

At the Sept. 1 council meeting, Trena Carter with Administrative Resources association said she expected grant recipients to be announced this month.

The cost of the project would be $1,109,200. If the grant is approved, the town would have to provide a 10 percent local match or $110,920. The money would come from the water and sewer depreciation funds. That put the grant request at $998,280.

The improvements would include installation of a storm sewer along Park Avenue from Hominy Ditch to Howard Street, then turning on Howard Street to run to Kovener Street.

New concrete box culverts would be installed at Bethany Road and Park Avenue, and obstructions would be removed from Hominy Ditch to improve water flow.

If Crothersville receives the grant, the first step would be hiring an engineer to oversee the work. The design process would begin around the first of next year. Bids would be sought and work would begin about springtime.

Carter said the project would have to be completed in eight months.

The 16 inches of rain in June and July in Crothersville brought light to the town’s drainage and flooding issues, prompting town officials to pursue funds to improve the stormwater collection system.

Seal said water, mud and trash back up in his yard and basement when the town receives more than 3 inches of rain.

“I get to get underneath the house and run fans underneath it to dry it out every time,” he said.

Seal said since he doesn’t live in a flood zone, he can’t get flood insurance to cover any property he loses and cleanup costs.

“All of that comes out of our pocket to clean it every time,” he said. “We’re all tired of this.”

Seal pointed to a recent project in which an area along the ditch was cleared, and it was thought that would help with flooding issues; but Mitchell said that was not done by the town.

Mitchell said before he was on the council, at least 10 years ago, the town created a master plan that showed the recommended steps to fix drainage issues throughout the community.

“The project we’re hoping to get funded now is the first step in that whole drainage master plan,” Mitchell said.

Seal asked the council why he wasn’t notified of the project and grant application, and Mitchell said the Sept. 1 public hearing was advertised in newspapers, and the documents have been on file at the town hall.

No one spoke in favor of or against the project or grant at the public hearing.

“We had the easement that was needed to do the work,” Mitchell said. “We know the work needs done, and we advertised the fact, and we held a public hearing on this application. So there was notice given in the papers that we were doing this.”

Monroe asked the council what happens if the town doesn’t receive the grant.

Mitchell said it would be up to the new council to determine the next steps to get some type of funding. Mitchell’s service with the council stops at the end of the year, and the council will consist of five members for the first time at the beginning of 2016.

“My recommendation is we go back to the drawing board and find another funding source and get that project done,” he said. “We can’t fix everything until we fix the first step. I think that there are other funding sources we’ll have to try to petition to, but we’re not going to be able to come up with a million dollars as we fund the town currently and the money we have.”

Mitchell said he previously proposed a stormwater utility tax.

“But how do you think everybody’s going to feel about another tax?” he said. “It’s needed. … It’s something that all towns should be considering.”

If the town has to find ways to get the project funded, that’s going to delay the start and potentially add years to the project, Mitchell said.

“It’s not right, and it’s not fair, but it’s real, and it’s what it is, and we’re doing the best that we can,” he said. “We have to make choices that I know you don’t agree with personally on what the priority is for the town.”

While some residents may feel the town is not moving fast enough on the project, Mitchell said they have to balance the needs of the entire community.

If it does get funded, though, work probably won’t be completed until 2017, he said.

“It’s not going to fix next year’s rainy season, that’s for sure,” Mitchell said. “But at least now, we’ve got on paper a solid plan that we think will make a difference.”

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.