City proposes flood mitigation project
By Correne Martin
The city of Prairie du Chien is proposing a $685,000 flood mitigation project on the east side of the city that is dependent upon approval of a Community Development Block Grant application and possible FEMA funds. Spurred by the local flooding event of June 21-23, the goal of the two-part project would be to prevent future disasters caused by severe rainfall and flooding.
The Prairie du Chien common council approved submission of the CDBG application Tuesday night following a public hearing. Depending on if and when the funding is approved, the potential project could start as soon as this fall or early winter, according to Kurt Muchow, of Vierbicher Associates, who is assisting with facilitation. If the city has to wait for some FEMA money, it could be delayed significantly, possibly through the end of 2014.
If funds are designated and the project moves forward, the plan calls for construction of two stormwater basins that could trap debris and slow flood waters. The first would be on city land east of the Jackson Street ditch and the second on private property in the town of Prairie du Chien along Highway 27. The city would have to acquire private land to proceed with the project.
“These basins are sized to handle a 100-year (flood) event if it happens again,” Muchow stated, noting that they could potentially handle more rain than a 100-year event.
The city would be responsible for maintaining the two basins. City officials have met and discussed the proposal with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Crawford County highway officials, who are in support of seeking funds for this project.
According to City Administrator Aaron Kramer, in addition to these project plans, city workers would also go into the drainage ditch in the area and remove trees, vegetation and sediment. This would be paid for by the city and is not part of the application.
“We have looked at the possibility of removing the drainage pipe which runs from the end of the ditch to Goddens’ Pit, but that is simply not economically feasible, and the pipe itself was not an issue during the June floods,” Kramer said.
Muchow said the Department of Administration has encouraged the city to apply for 100 percent of the project funds, which are imperative for the proposed project.
“If we do not get this federal funding, I do not see us doing this project without significant cuts elsewhere in the General Fund or proposed 2014-2016 Capital Budgets,” Kramer pointed out.
In a related topic, Kramer added that the city continues to explore future options for Goddens’ Pit, which could include dredging the area.
•Kramer informed the council about the status of the Haydn Street crossing decision. He said he would be asking the council at its Oct. 1 meeting to approve filing a Writ of Mandamus in either Crawford or Dane County to compel the Office of Commissioner of Railroads to release the findings of the hearing.
•Alderwoman Judeen Ames has submitted her resignation from the council, effective Sept. 30. Her term, representing the Sixth Aldermanic District, runs through April 2014. The council decided to accept applications to fill the vacancy and appoint a new councilmember at the Oct. 15 council meeting.
•The council approved a resolution authorizing submission of an Urban Forestry Grant application to the Wisconsin DNR. This grant could be used, if awarded, to assist in creating an urban forest on the north side of the former Northern Engraving property on St. Feriole Island, as well as other tree-related projects in the city.
•The zoning ordinance was amended from R-1 Low Density Residential to R-2 Medium Density Residential for three lots and a portion of a fourth on the 300 block of Buchanan Street, at the request from Pellock Construction. Steve Pellock addressed the council and spoke about his proposal to build two duplexes on the property, which measures about 80 feet wide. Pellock said he is in the design phase right now but he would like to make the duplexes handicapped accessible and geared toward the elderly. “I think there’s a big need for that in the community,” he stated.
•The council approved the renewal of the city’s health insurance plan with Health Tradition (Mayo) and voted to maintain the employee premium contribution level at 13 percent.