|$A flood of excuses
Aside from the fact the mayor & certain county council have presented the city’s request/ demand for 2.5 million from the county as an urgent need to maintain clean water & have said it will help with future water needs- neither statement is fair nor accurate. As explained before the rate increase doesn’t have anything to do with inflation, unsafe water or anything other than years of mismanagement and negligence.
I listened carefully as Bob made his plea about safe water. But we have safe water. What we don’t have is well maintained water towers and water lines, nor do we have a huge increase in population in our community which would stress our existing infrastructure. When confronted as to why the city didn’t just use its own COVID money to address their water issues, Bob used the excuse that the city was already using SOME of their COVID dollars to invest in flood prevention & water run off problems and still needed money for safe water. But it’s more complicated than the city using SOME of their COVID money for flood prevention because we also haven’t had good management of our flood risk especially regulation of housing developments & big box construction. Therefore, whenever we built roofs, added asphalt driveways, built big box stores, big churches, a new hospital & concrete parking lots we had lots of water run off without retaining ponds to hold that run-off. Consequently, the run off ran right down what most know as 421 and others might know as the Rykers ridge water shed. Except the issue isn’t the RR water shed changed in the last decade. It’s that Walmart, Lowes, Miles Ridge, a couple churches & one new hospital have been added in the last 10-15 years on top of and near the Rykers Ridge water shed. Lots & lots of roofs, driveways & parking lots have been added & the city failed to require developers to invest in water run-off safety measures & infrastructure. So, water ran right downtown, literally on and around 421. Consequently, we developed a DANGEROUS flash flood problem. This matters because, Bob says the reason they aren’t investing city COVID dollars in water infrastructure is because they are investing in Flood mitigation & run off problems. Except my friendly local, civil engineer professional has spoken repeatedly about the city’s FAILURE to use past FEMA flood money to correct runoff & flood mitigation. Make no mistake the city has received FEMA funding because of downtowns self-inflicted flash flood problems.
Where those big FEMA dollars went – I don’t know. I just know whatever it was spent on didn’t address the flash flooding in and around 421 just as you enter downtown Madison & North Walnut Street areas. The problems most have with the city claiming they are using their COVID funds for flood mitigation is that we’ve heard it before. We heard it when FEMA gave millions in the past & the city said it would correct the problems, but then didn’t. This past spring Walnut Street citizens were outraged & expressed that rage at city council meetings. We can’t help but wonder- WTH- where’d all that past FEMA money go & has the city changed their building codes yet –have they done anything about retention ponds on the hilltop or is the plan to continue to let all that water run off right down 421? No one is talking about the “new flood mitigation plan”- the only thing we hear is that money will be spent on “something” for flood and run off. Well darn- we’ve heard that before….
Please remember this is not Bobs fault ( not most of it anyway). The decision as to how spend past city FEMA flood money fell to Armstrong and Welch- mostly Welch; Bobs first flood was this past spring. But the question remains, do you give the county’s COVID grant money to the city because the city decided to misspend their past flood control money? Do you give money not knowing if the city has or will change their development codes & address retention problems on the hilltop? Is it fair to citizens not only in Jefferson County but the vast majority of Madison that the city hasn’t changed its development policies & still allows citizens to move right back into trailers & older buildings in areas at high risk for flash floods and therefore we must invest millions to divert flash floods when it would be best to simply rezone & relocate persons from flood prone areas. Or is all the money for overflow and run off going to correct the problems on Clifty Drive and still leave those businesses and homes in the flash flood area in increasing danger? Are we ever going to do what the FEMA expects us to do- put human life first? Wouldn’t the best mitigation to be relocation, adding green space, changing codes to increase run off pond requirements etc , etc. If we did those things- the city wouldn’t have to spend millions in flood mitigation; people would be safe and flooding reduced- then the city could pay for its own water “improvements” instead of expecting the county pitch in more than a third of their COVID dollars. Bottom line- most agree with the commissioners- the city needs to address the underlying issues that cause our flash floods before asking the county to surrender 2.5 million.