City Council looks at ways to stop floods in Willmar
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council took steps Tuesday night to help solve flooding problems in the southwest part of town. The council voted 5-3 to approve a motion by Denis Anderson to dedicate revenue raised by a natural gas franchise fee to d...
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council took steps Tuesday night to help solve flooding problems in the southwest part of town.
The council voted 5-3 to approve a motion by Denis Anderson to dedicate revenue raised by a natural gas franchise fee to develop storm water and flood control remedies.
The Grass Lake project would be included in the remedies.
The motion directs city staff to develop options and a plan to address flooding concerns.
The motion anticipates the plan will be a multi-year project.
Anderson said the biggest issue facing the city was storm water and flood control. He was referring to a flooding condition two weeks ago at the intersection of 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest that caused part of a foundation wall to collapse at the Warren and Jan Lee Jorgenson home.
After the storm water and flooding project is completed, Anderson said, the City Council will either identify another city-wide project or, if none are identified, end the fee.
Also, if the state Legislature restores Local Government Aid for 2008, the city's levy for 2008 would be reduced by the additional LGA funding up to a maximum of $250,000.
Voting to approve the motion were Anderson, Steve Gardner, Doug Reese, Bruce DeBlieck and Cindy Swenson. Voting against was Jim Dokken, Rick Fagerlie and Ron Christianson.
In related action during a meeting that ran more than three hours, the council voted 8-0 to approve recommendations from the Public Works/Safety Committee to direct staff to discuss with the school district the possibility of developing flood water retention ponds at Garfield and Kennedy School, at railroad property located near Trott Avenue and state Highway 40, and at the city-owned Miller Park.
The motion directs staff to prepare cost estimates for all options including the purchase of homes at 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue where an additional retention area could be developed.
Jorgenson and others told the council during the open forum that flooding occurred at that intersection two years and that they had asked the council to take action but nothing was done. They again asked the council to look at ways to solve the problem when heavy rain floods the low-lying area.
"This time we are demanding that you fix the problem now,'' said Jorgenson. "Stop spending our tax dollars on studies that are not implemented. Hold city staff accountable. It's too late for our home, but it's not too late for the rest of our neighborhood.''
Jorgenson said the solution to the flooding at 10th and Kandiyohi is to take some of the city funds in the "rainy day account,'' and remove the houses and restore the natural order of the land with a holding pond, which he said would help others in the area.
Rainfall from the storm the night of Aug. 20 and early morning of Aug. 21 ranged from 1.75 inches on the north edge of the city to 4.3 inches in the south.
Several street flooding areas were identified, mainly 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest, 19th Avenue Southeast, 15th Street and Richland Avenue Southwest, and areas along Third Street Southwest.
Staff said smaller areas throughout the city were also affected. The rain was termed a 100-year event. The city had a similar event two years ago. Afterward, Barr Engineering was hired to do a hydraulic study focusing on the area of 10th and Kandiyohi.
The findings suggested holding the water back retention area. Three areas were suggested: Miller Park; Garfield School; and Kennedy School.
City staff approached the school district and neighboring residents of Kennedy School, who voiced opposition to the proposal.