Benson, Minn., will not build flood barrier
BENSON — Benson city council members unanimously rejected a proposal Monday to build a flood barrier to protect the Hawleywood subdivision along the golf course.
The decision came a little more than a week after council members hosted an open meeting with nearly 50 residents, according to Rob Wolfington, Benson city administrator.
Residents seemed to be fairly evenly split over what to do.
The city had been offered up to $150,000 in grant funds from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, but would need to match the funds to build the barrier. The approximate, $300,000 barrier would be designed to protect against a 100-year flood event, but it would not have been an accredited flood protection barrier.
As a result, installing the barrier would not serve to reduce the cost for flood insurance policies in the affected area. There are 28 homes in the subdivision, said the city administrator.
One of the challenges for the council and residents is determining the risk of flooding in the area. The biggest concern focuses on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway bridge that spans the Chippewa River on the city’s western edge. There have long been concerns that ice could jam against the bridge pylons and back-up the river water into the Hawleywood subdivision.
The city would like to see a larger, open span bridge replace the existing bridge to reduce the risk of ice jams.