By BRADEN LAMMERS
Before plans for Falls Landing Park come before the Jeffersonville City Council for a vote at its Monday meeting, the city’s fiscal body was given an update on the proposed project earlier this week.
Falls Landing Park is part of a project designed to mitigate flooding in downtown Jeffersonville. The planned park would surround a retention pond that would be located between Eighth and Ninth streets and Indiana Ave. At its meeting earlier this month, the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission approved by a vote of 3-2, with Commissioners Rob Stevens and James Lake voting against, to pay $698,000 of the city’s match to construct the pond and the park. The total price for the project is about $1.2 million and the remainder of the cost is being paid for by a $500,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
Approval for the city to approve the matching money for the grant is on a tight timeline and must take place at the city council’s Monday meeting, or the city risks losing the funds, said City Grant Administrator Delynn Rutherford.
To attempt to answer questions and quell concerns, the city council held a workshop Wednesday to discuss the project.
Jorge Lanz, president of Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz Inc., the engineering company working on the project, provided an overview of the city’s plan to install a combined sewer overflow system downtown and to address flooding issues.
“What’s going to keep us out of trouble with the EPA is, instead of discharging combined sewer into the Ohio River, we’re going to store it in this 2 1/2-mile tunnel ... and then we’re going to run it through the pump station, to the downtown plant and treat it and then discharge it to Mill Creek,” Lanz said.
The tunnel is the overflow pipe which would store water so the system is not overwhelmed and results in flooding. The pond is also designed to capture and slow the flow of water out of the area, which has been an area of consistent flooding problems in Jeffersonville.
“We’ve taken out the rainwater from the combined sewer interceptor so it betters our chances of not having a surcharge or a combined sewer overflow,” Lanz said.
However, there are still areas of concern at Eight Street and Ohio Avenue and Eighth and Spring streets.
Lanz explained that new sewers installed at the intersections which connect to the storm sewer would be able to take more rainwater and help relieve the combined sewer. But when a heavy rain occurs, flooding could still result and cause a combined sewer overflow by sewer water coming out of manholes in the intersections.
Lanz said if the sewer water would come out of the manholes, it would get on top of the pavement and run into the storm sewers in the curbs. The sewer water would then flow into the storm sewer, at which point it could go into the retention pond.
The potential of that sewer water backing up in the retention pond was one of the major concerns previously cited by city council members. Lanz said the only time that would happen is when there would be a heavy enough rain to overflow the combined sewer.
He also and addressed another concern related to the Ohio River flooding out the city’s sewer system.
In order to keep the water from coming up a 96-inch fallout pipe that runs toward Clarksville, and eventually into the Ohio River, the plan is to install check valves to keep the water from backing up into the 10th Street pump station. Lanz said that flood control pump station issues need to be addressed to that end.
“We’re depending on our flood control pumping stations,” he said. “That’s why our big deal is, we want to make sure if we’re going to spend $6 million to $10 million on this flood control pumping station, that it’s not only sized correctly, but that the pumping range is low enough so that it can drain us.”
The Cane Run pump station would act as a reliever to the 10th street pump station and the downtown sewer treatment plant. The issue with the Cane Run pump station is that it is out-of-date and not set at the correct elevation. In order to address the problem, and issues with the Mill Creek pump station, the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Flood Control District has commissioned a watershed study and has been pursuing a bond to determine how to rehabilitate the two pump stations.
The bond has yet to be approved.
Questions from the council turned to the pond itself and the previous plan to address flooding in the city, which was the canal project.
“That pond is exactly the same pond ... as for the canal plan,” Lanz said. “The pond is exactly the same, same volume, same elevation.”
He again pointed to the risk of flooding and that it would not be totally eliminated with either plan.
“Even with this plan in place, when we have the combined sewers overflowing, they’re still overflowing and draining into the storm sewers and still draining into the same water, the same pond,” Lanz said.
He said if flooding would have occurred with the canal plan, it would have flowed into the pond and into the canal, “you would have had a contamination issue.”
Councilman Dennis Julius said that with the canal, there would have been a greater capacity for stormwater and a reduced chance of the combined sewers overflowing.
“If the canal would have been built, you would have had that much more capacity and it’s that less likely to have this [happen],” he said.
Julius also asked Redevelopment Director Rob Waiz why the city’s Drainage Board had offered opposition to the current Falls Landing project.
Waiz said he was unsure and added that it did not make any sense because the board had approved the retention pond previously when it was part of the canal plan. He added that the drainage board recently approved a drainage masterplan for the city, which included the Falls Landing project.
City Council Attorney Scott Lewis, who also serves as the drainage board attorney, said the masterplan is a list of suggested projects and added the park — not the pond itself — was the big contention with the plan at Falls Landing.
“I know the big concern was ...the drainage board did not want to, they thought, exceed their authority to fund a park project when their only statutory mission is to address stormwater issues,” he said.
Julius asked if a few drainage board members could attend the council meeting Monday and explain the board’s issues with the plan.
The drainage board was not being asked to pay for the project and without the park, the city would not be receiving grant money, Rutherford said. The redevelopment commission has agreed to fund the city’s match for the project and the grant is contingent upon a park being a part of the plan.
“If it was a regular drainage project without the park element, we would not be offered this grant,” she said. “That’s the only reason that they offered us this in a noncompetitive way.”
The Jeffersonville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, April 1, on the first floor at City Hall, 500 Quartermaster Court.