Drainage is a major issue in many areas of Seymour, and city officials are planning to tackle part of the problem by improving the Von Fange Ditch on the city’s west side.

Aging infrastructure and continued growth and development have resulted in an overburdened and inefficient stormwater collection system, and heavy downpours often lead to flooded streets and yards.

Some residents have complained to city leaders of damage from flooding.

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One couple even recently went before the city council with pictures of their backyard in-ground pool, which they said they have had to repair more than once after a nearby ditch backed up and water flowed onto their property.

The city is applying for a federal Community Development Block Grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Stormwater Improvements Program to help pay for a portion of the project.

A study recently completed by Wessler Engineering shows the proposed improvements will cost just more than $5 million.

“They seemed very much in favor of moving forward with this,” Trena Carter with Administrative Resources association said of OCRA. “They thought it met the need within the community.”

Resident Jim Kelly said he thought the project was “a great idea.”

“Anything that will improve the drainage for the city system and the city of Seymour is definitely a step in the right direction because if you want new business, you have to improve your infrastructure, not just the roads, but the sewers and drains and everything else, maybe even the capacity to increase at some point down the road,” he told council members during a public hearing last week.

An income survey of Seymour shows the city has a low to moderate income of 56 percent, which is over the 51 percent required to be eligible for Community Development Block Grant funds, Carter said.

Priority work included in the project includes storm and sanitary sewer redirection and replacement in the Kessler Boulevard neighborhood and turning the Von Fange Ditch into a hybrid ditch. That would mean changing it from an open flow ditch to an underground piped system.

By doing that, the city could turn the ditch into a multipurpose pedestrian trail. But the trail portion would not be covered by the OCRA Stormwater Improvements Program grant, Carter said.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said his office gets numerous phone calls from people impacted by flooding after it rains, especially those living near or who have businesses along West Second and Third streets, Kessler Boulevard and Community Drive.

He first proposed the improvements last October.

“I think the main thing is we’ve got to look at if we don’t start doing something with the Von Fange Ditch, we’re going to have worse and worse flooding in the city,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be the win-all, drain-all type of thing, but it’s a step in the right direction to alleviate some of that.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.