Amend the city budget to the tune of more than $540,000 or wait for next fiscal year’s budget? That was the question with which Calvert City Council grappled at length during its virtual meeting Dec. 14.
The added funds would allow the city to build a flood mitigation basin this year in the West Calvert Watershed. Periodic flooding of Calvert City Apartments at Sixth Avenue and Cedar Street has plagued apartment dwellers for years. Earlier this year, the city contracted with HDR Engineering to conduct a study and recommend solutions for Sixth and Cedar and flooding at two other sites.
“The report we put together looked at three basins to try to slow down and mitigate any of the flash flooding that has been occurring in Calvert City over the last few years,” said Matt Brawley, HDR engineer. One basin was on 2nd Avenue near a culvert under the P&L Railroad, the second was the Sixth and Cedar site and the third was off Pine Street. Basin one would divert flooding from Arkansas and Alaska streets.
“The P&L is the choke point of the entire watershed area,” Brawley said, noting his report shows three choke points — the major one at the P&L, a culvert under Ky. 95 and at Sixth and Cedar. “… What we’re trying to do is slow down and hold (water) so your current systems can process the water to keep everything from becoming overwhelmed.”
Brawley recommended the council build the basin at Sixth and Cedar streets first and then the first basin on Second Avenue. Councilman Gene Colburn noted the basin would be limited by how much water is drained under the railroad.
Mayor Lynn Jones asked Brawley whether the city might persuade P&L to increase the size of the culvert under the railroad. “I would recommend trying to talk to them again,” Brawley replied. “The last time we did, the biggest issue they had was there was no way of putting a culvert through there without shutting down the main line.”
Councilman Kevin Stokes said the project should be part of budget discussion for the next fiscal year. “I’m not against the project but I think a $540,000 project needs to be part of our budget,” he said.
Colburn said the flooding at Calvert City Apartments is terrible. “I’m just trying to figure out for a half million dollar investment, how much insurance (against flooding) are we buying?” he questioned.
Councilman Jeremy Rowe asked whether the basin would be a marshy area when it is not flooded.
Brawley said the sides would be sowed in grass and it would be marshy. “In the middle of summer, it’s probably going to be dry,” he said. “It just depends on how much water goes through there. Your typical one-inch rain — that would just pass normally through.”
Jones asked whether there might be federal funding available for such a project since it would improve conditions for low income residents. Brawley said he was unaware of any available grants.
City Administrator John Ward suggested the city might fund the project’s engineering this fiscal year and the construction in the next budget. Brawley said the line item for engineering would be about $75,000.
“That might be easier to swallow than trying to do it all in one pill,” Ward said. However, after reviewing records he determined training funds would be shorted if the engineering fee were subtracted from this year’s budget.
Jones suggested investigating the possibility of federal grants being available. “We’ll come back in January and report on it, and if we get any information between now and then, we’ll get that to you,” he said.
On another issue, aviation consultant Tim Haskell reported runway paving at Kentucky Dam Airport was completed Dec. 10. “Markings were completed at that time and the runway has reopened,” he said. “The project went very smoothly.”
Haskell said the fuel pump had its final inspection — the pressure test, and a little more work remains before the airport is ready to receive fuel. Final details and training should be completed by mid-January. The T-hangar project’s contractor expects construction in February and hangar occupation by spring. He said the Federal Aviation Administration is working on distributing stimulus money and also anticipates a winter stimulus package.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with the Memphis District office; I will remind them frequently that one of the highest priority safety projects is a fence around the perimeter of Kentucky Dam Airport,” Haskell said.
Ward added there are now 12 aircraft based at Kentucky Dam, five more pilots who are based elsewhere, are interested in being based here, and three others who have asked for hangar space, don’t have their planes yet. “That puts us at 20 requests out of 21 hangars,” he said. “I think they will fill up.”
In other business the council:
• Voted following an executive session to buy two contiguous tracts totaling 1.56 acres adjacent to Memorial Part at a cost of $20,000. The city has been using a large portion of the property for a soccer field for several years.
• Agreed to join a coalition of cities to form a lending agency that would provide better interest rates for rural entities building water projects. Roger Colburn requested the city join the organization, City Attorney Greg Northcutt said.