Arcadia funds ‘final’ phase of flood study

Reluctant to walk away from the city’s $1 million investment in a federal flood-relief study, the Arcadia council approved spending an additional $92,000 to perhaps conclude the research.

The council last Wednesday opted to take the money from funds set aside for rebuilding Gavney Road, a project that likely would be delayed because the city’s partner, the town of Arcadia, is awaiting a grant to fund its share.

“We can’t stop now with all the money we’ve already invested,” said council member Joe Feltes.

The council’s unanimous vote came after a call with Nan Bischoff, a project manager working on the Arcadia study being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Bischoff said she believes the completion of the corps’ research could cost “tens of thousands of dollars less” if the city provides sufficient background information on two of the four proposed sites the corps believes need an environmental review.

The environmental review bumped up the cost of the corps study to $2,010,000 compared to the initial estimate of $1.05 million. The city is responsible for half the cost, with city staff work considered an in-kind contribution to the project. The new $92,000 contribution would bring to $158,000 the amount paid by the city to the corps for the purported final phase.

Bischoff said the higher cost is also a result of the length of the study period, which the corps estimated in early March, 2016, would be one to one-and-a-half years. A draft report was actually completed in December, 2019, nearly four years later.

Though the council agreed to allocate the money, city officials said they remain worried about the flood control project itself. The latest corps’ estimated puts the price at $36.8 million, which is $14 million more than the city has in grants and borrowing capability.

“This has become a moving target,” said Mayor Rob Reichwein. “We’re not sure how we can finance this. We’re going to have to start taking about whether to go forward.”

Council member Dan Sonsalla questioned, too, whether the study would remain valid should the city have to delay project work.

City attorney Terry Madden told Bischoff that the city will likely insist including in a letter confirming its commitment to the project a stipulation that it will bow out if funding can’t be found.

Bischoff said the $36.8 million estimate includes about $8 million in contingencies. She said the cost, based on October, 2019, dollars, could also change based on how bidders respond.

The two sites that the corps’ Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste team wishes to review, but which city officials say is unnecessary, are the former city landfill that sits beneath an Ashley Furniture Industries parking lot and old sewer plant lagoons that have been converted to wetlands. Both projects were completed about 30 years ago, and Madden said the city can provide the corps with documents showing environmental concerns were addressed then.

The remaining sites would include a former co-op and a building on the Pilgrim’s Pride site.


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