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South Johnson/Oliver Street drainage study discussed at workshop

By Kelly Terpstra,

Standing water on city streets that can impede travel is never a good thing.

Jon Biederman, an engineer with Fehr Graham, explained to the Charles City Council on Monday during a workshop session what can be done about drainage problems inside the city limits.

The council approved a $15,000 study this past August for his engineering firm to analyze a few areas in Charles City that retain a high level of waters during heavy downpours.

One such location Fehr Graham researched was at the low-point intersection of South Johnson and Oliver. The tributary area that drains to the sag — what is essentially a low spot in a storm sewer line — covers almost 13 acres that is bounded by Charles Street and 8th Street.

Biederman said the storm sewers that allow water to flow out of the area are “dramatically undersized.” He also said there is a 10-inch pipe that water drains through into the storm sewer intake.

Biederman said 18 inches of water has been recorded at the deepest part on the street surface and that it’s best to keep water below six inches on streets before it starts affecting vehicles.

“The question always comes up, well why are we having this problem now? This has been here for 50, 60 years – whatever,” said Biederman. “There’s a proven fact that our climate is changing. Not that they get a lot more precipitation in a year, but it comes in fewer events and they’re much more intense.”

The second study was conducted in an area of just over five acres between Johnson Street and Main Street that drains to the Main Street storm sewers south of 6th Street. The second plan addresses both the city street flooding and the management of additional stormwater runoff from proposed new construction at the Bridge Church.

City Engineer John Fallis said it would be good practice to collaborate with the Bridge Church to coordinate possible future improvements that would avoid duplicating similar type of work.

The estimated cost for the project would be $430,000, according to Fehr Graham and would include cost of the detention basin, upsized piping, new intakes, street and sidewalk repair and general grading.

“This is just a study. Really, no design has been done,” said Fallis.

The council also continued an ongoing discussion about a petition by homeowners who live on 195th Street in Charles City and want to start the process of de-annexation and to be severed from the city.

Three households are listed in the petition – Samuel and Julie Offerman, Shirley Keiser and Casey Mallory.

The properties at 195th Street lie just past Amazing Grace Church and Mills Inc. off of Gilbert Street headed south. The homeowners are located just south of the Maple Heights addition, which is not inside the city limits.

The Offermans and Mallory were at the workshop and said they do not receive city water or sewer service. Snow removal is done by the county and there are no street lights or fire hydrants near those residences. Mallory did state that trash and recycling service was started up a few weeks ago at those properties.

“We’re in the city limits right now, but we receive no city services, whatsoever. We’d prefer to be out of the city then,” said Offerman.

Sanitary sewer services are provided by Maple Heights. The city has an arrangement with Maple Heights whereby it compensates the city for those services.

Mallory conducted an informal survey of 60 residents that reside in Maple Heights and asked them if they would like to obtain city services. Forty-seven of those residents responded that they would not like city services.

“The way that we look at it is we’re not getting anything from the city that Maple Heights is not getting,” said Offerman, at an October council workshop. “But with the city taxes we’re paying for the infrastructure for all of those things.”

City Attorney Brad Sloter said there could be a resolution at Monday’s regular council session for council members to vote on whether to approve the de-annexation process or deny it.

Jodie Buehler, a resident in the 700 block of 2nd Avenue in Charles City, has filed an application for the removal of a sidewalk near his property. He is requesting permission from the city to remove the 68-year old sidewalk and have a yard that is continuous with the parking. He said the sidewalks on both sides of the street dead-end and the majority of the people in the neighborhood walk in the street.

Buehler said properties east of 706 and 709 2nd Avenue do not have sidewalks. He said those properties have much more reason to have sidewalks due to exiting traffic and entering Ellis Drive.

Buehler argues that if the properties had sidewalks that were continuous with the already existing sidewalks west of them, he would repair or replace his sidewalk. He added that the city can’t justify requiring him to repair or maintain his sidewalk unless remaining residents of 2nd Avenue are required to install them.