Drainage – A Crisis of Inaction

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUEb larger    With $4.7 million in available dedicated funds to improve drainage and no plan in place to know how best to apply those funds, the City of Central is faced with two less than desirable options. Central’s best option expired when Mayor Shelton’s 2014 promise to “implement drainage upgrades immediately” remained unfulfilled for almost three years since taking office.
    One option is to wait for the results of the comprehensive drainage plan, which was authorized just two weeks ago, to ensure that the $4.7 million would be spent to protect the largest number of homes. However, that option delays drainage improvements.
    The other option is to quickly spend almost all of the city’s $4.7 million drainage fund in an attempt to solve what Mayor Shelton says is at least a $24 million project. But, with no study of the drainage improvement needs, there is no guarantee that any of the proposed $4 million price tag will actually protect any of Central’s homes from flooding.
    Central’s Mayor and Council is faced with a difficult decision as it meets this Friday to consider appropriating almost all of the city’s drainage improvement cash reserves. While drainage improvements are long overdue, the decision must be made whether to spend those reserves before or after there is a well-researched plan in place.
    The lack of any progress in developing a drainage plan for the last three years leaves Central with no good options. However, before spending almost all of Central’s drainage fund savings, here are four questions that really need to be answered:
    Can it be said with certainty that this $4 million expenditure will prevent the type of local flooding Central has experienced?
    With problems including overgrown canals, inadequate culverts under roadways, and silted-in ditches, until a drainage study is done how can the city know where to apply $4 million to a $24 million problem?
    Since there are portions of drainage canals where the city does not have a servitude or right of way, how will the city decide which portion of which canals to clear, and will clearing only a portion of a drainage canal while leaving blockages elsewhere in the same canal actually improve drainage at all? 
    With the Mayor learning just this week that Central is responsible for the maintenance of the drainage canal that runs along the north side of Hooper Road, without the drainage plan mapping of Central’s drainage system can the city be sure that all of the correct canals are being cleared?
    The only thing worse than more local flooding would be to spend all of Central's drainage improvement savings account doing work that does not prevent more local flooding. Having a plan in place BEFORE the crisis, would have been Good News for a Great City.


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