IOWA CITY — The City Council rejected a measure last night that could have led to the construction of the Taft Speedway levee.
The council voted the measure down after almost an hour of public comment, with only Mayor Matt Hayek and Councilor Terry Dickens voting in favor.
If approved, state officials would have faced a decision over whether the levee still met “urgent need” criteria.
The project originally was sought for flood protection along the Iowa River in northern Iowa City.Though the city was awarded an $8 million federal grant, the levee’s construction was delayed because residents disagreed about how it would affect the area.
While the levee was intended to protect an area north of the Taft Speedway, its construction would have left nine houses unprotected. .
Iowa City resident Mary Murphy, who lives at 890 Park Place, expressed concern over other expensive projects the city already is pursuing, adding that the council needed to make a decision that would benefit everyone in Iowa City, rather than one particular community.
Murphy’s sentiment of fairness was echoed by others throughout the evening.
Ultimately five members of the council said they decided that they could not support a measure that would benefit one portion of the community at the expense of others.
“I have empathy and compassion for the residents of Idyllwild. I also believe it is the responsibility of the government an the community to provide for the safety and welfare of its citizens when making a decision such as this one, logic should be used instead of emotion,” said council member Michelle Payne. “Spending $8.1 million for the benefit of 92 residents and putting others in potentially new harm is not an effective use of funds.”
Susan Mims, Connie Champion, Rick Dobyns, and Jim Throgmorton also voted against the levee.
Community Development Planner David Purdy previously told the council the federal grant could go toward another flood project.