JEFFERSONVILLE — Ground-level work has commenced on a new water drainage system aimed at eliminating some of downtown Jeffersonville’s flooding issues.
This week, crews began razing structures that occupy the land bound by Eighth and Ninth streets and Indiana and Ohio avenues. Most notably, the apartment complex at the corner of Indiana Avenue and Ninth Street is in the process of being leveled.
The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission gave a green light to the $4 million project in 2018. Plans called for underground retention basins that would hold water redirected from flood-prone areas of the city, with a park adorning the surface above the system.
Delays in getting the process off the ground started right away. Property owners turned down initial offers by the city to buy the land. The ensuing eminent domain battle sent the parties to court in October 2018.
The city was given good news in June when a Clark County magistrate ruled in its favor, thus requiring the relocation on those still living on the property. By October 2019, the only remaining residents were those in the 12-unit apartment building at Indiana Avenue and Ninth Street.
With that portion of the process now complete, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said he is happy that work can ramp up on the site.
“We were happy to see that building coming down,” he said. “That’s obviously a big part of the drainage fix for downtown. [The apartment building] was probably the biggest hold up we’ve had, which pushed us to this spring instead of sooner.”
Moore noted that the area in the vicinity of where Spring Street meets Interstate 65 and 10th Street has been prone to flooding for as long as he can remember, referring to it as a bowl of sorts. The nature of the landscape and how water settles after rain has been a source of headaches for some in the city. The nearby M. Fine building, for instance, has flooded multiple times since its opening.
Because of such issues, Moore and his team landed on the water detention system as the best bet for the future. In the months to come, all structures on the property will be torn down. Construction of the system itself was previously expected to last around six months, though Moore said no firm timetable has been established during recent discussions with crews.
“We’re still kind of in the middle of harsh weather, and you’re limited on what you can do outside,” he said. “Getting that building down was a big deal. Soon as the weather gets better, you’ll see more ground work there.”
Once the system is installed, the land on the surface will be used for a new park. While Moore hopes to name the future park in honor of a yet-to-be-determined Jeffersonville figure — like he’s done with similar parks elsewhere in the city — he said his top priority at this point in time is solving the drainage issue.
“I know everybody wants to get the drainage under control down there,” he said. “That’s where my focus is.”