By BRADEN LAMMERS
The Jeffersonville City Council approved seeking a grant to construct Falls Landing Park, a plan it voted down about a month ago.
Mayor Mike Moore, along with several planners and engineers, again presented the request to the city council Monday night to seek a $500,000 Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grant to construct the park that would include a retention basin to help alleviate flooding in downtown Jeffersonville.
Falls Landing Park pond, which is part of the Cane Run fallout, was described as a project to provide drainage relief to about 425 acres of the city that drains into the Cane Run fallout near 10th and Spring streets. A retention pond would be constructed near Interstate 65, bordering Indiana Avenue between Seventh and Ninth streets, and could contain about 2 million gallons of water. Included in the potential park project is a quarter-mile walking path around the pond, landscaping, lights, benches and bike racks.
Jeffersonville’s Grants Administrator Delynn Rutherford said the funding from OCRA was a noncompetitive grant and the city just had to meet the low-to-moderate income survey, which was approved at a redevelopment meeting.
Moore said the plan presented to the council was “extremely similar” to a plan that was OK’d by the city’s drainage board in 2010.
Councilwoman Lisa Gill, who was on the drainage board at the time, disagreed that the plan was the same and said it was a different plan, because the previous project was tied to the previous administration’s canal project and there was also a storm-separation element to the plan to eliminate combined sewer overflows.
Jorge Lanz, president of Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz Inc., said the retention pond has always been part of the drainage plan to alleviate flooding in the area. The retention pond would allow the combined sewer system to get to the 10th street pump station, and out, before anything has to go out of a 96-inch diameter discharge pipe to Clarksville.
“What we’re trying to do is control the stormwater runoff,” he said. “The purpose of this pond is to try and control what’s going out of that pipe to Clarksville.”
Wastewater Superintendent Len Ashack said, along with the other ongoing wastewater projects in the city, it should alleviate many of the city’s flooding concerns.
“The interceptor going from Market Street all the way up to the 10th Street pump station, that’s going to alleviate a lot of the problems you’re seeing now at Eighth [Street] and Ohio [Avenue],” he said. “The pond is a retention basin to allow us to handle stormwater so that eliminates, or minimizes, the combined flow to Cane Run. All the water from that area is trying to get into that 96-inch sewer line. It goes in, it goes out — there’s no retention.”
Lanz added that the estimate to construct the pond is about $300,000.
“I believe it’s something that needs to be approved and completed so that we can finish the stormwater project,” he said.
But the council initially balked at granting its approval for seeking the grant, citing cost concerns and the location of the park.
“I have no problem with the drainage feature of this, it’s the park feature that I think I have trouble with,” said Councilman Dennis Julius.
He said threat of a combination overflow into the pond is a deterrent to approving the project, as well as the cost of the project when it was presented at the previous meeting which was much higher.
At a previous meeting the estimated cost totaled $1.18 million with the remainder, about $680,000, to be paid as a match by the city.
“Last time this was discussed it was a different story,” said Jeffersonville City Council President Ed Zastawny.
But Moore jumped in and said, “The city council does not have to match a penny to get this thing funded ... I just need council approval to sign off on it. If the council chooses not to sign off on it, the city will still be spending the money, still be doing the project, but the taxpayers are going to have to pay an extra $500,000.
“It’s a redevelopment project beyond the cost of what we get” he said, later in the meeting.
Wayne Estopinal, president of the Estopinal Group, who developed a plan for the site, said it could eventually be folded into a larger scale plan for development near the proposed park.
The council unanimously approved seeking the $500,000 grant, with Councilman Mike Smith not in attendance at Monday’s meeting.
Look for more from Monday’s council meeting in an upcoming edition of the News and Tribune.