Decatur City Council members agreed Monday to delay a flood-correction project in Southeast Decatur because the estimated appraisals for obtaining easements are roughly $500,000 above budget.
City Engineer Carl Prewitt told the council members at the council's work session the appraisals for obtaining easements on four properties off Brookmeade Drive Southeast pushed the estimated project cost to between $700,000 and $750,000.
“It’s only four properties of about 5 acres,” Prewitt said.
He said the city likely would have to use condemnation proceeding on a portion of two of the properties, "the two largest lots closest to Country Club (Road) and Brookmeade,” because it's unlikely an agreement could be reached with the owners.
The homes on the four properties are not impacted by the flooding during a heavy rain. This bottleneck impacts six to eight homes downstream, said city Director of Development Wally Terry.
Terry said city officials tried unsuccessfully to find out through the state how many flood claims have been filed in this area so they would know the true impact.
“They said it was confidential and that we would have to go through FEMA,” Terry said. “We do know it impacts the houses behind the Gateway (Shopping Center), Somerville Road and Fourth Street.”
Councilwoman Kristi Hill said more than 40 people attended a public meeting last year to show interest in the problem.
Councilwoman Paige Bibbee said the city also needs to correct another drainage bottleneck on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge to really solve the problem, but so far federal officials have refused to give them permission to work on refuge property.
“We’ve asked repeatedly,” Bibbee said. “They don’t want to interfere with the turtles’ homes and other wild spaces.”
Bibbee said the city should delay on the Brookmeade project and try two other solutions.
She wants Street and Environmental Services to look again at repairing or replacing the Wilson Morgan Lake pump that controls the flow of water into the Country Club Road area.
Bibbee suggested city officials also look into the cost of a stormwater detention vault like those near Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse. A vault like this is meant to hold water during and after a heavy rain so as to avoid flooding.