By Marv Rops
The decision to proceed with Sun Valley flooding protection was made by City Manager Jeff Pomeranz the morning of May 14 while standing on my driveway. I had gone to his office days earlier to invite him to the neighborhood to discuss flooding issues. He and city engineer Dave Elgin arrived and I made a detailed presentation to them. Pomerantz seemed impressed and made a complimentary statement that made the effort worthwhile and memorable. He then made the statement to Elgin that “we need to do something about this” (flooding protection). They discussed the available consultants for the project and made a decision. It appeared that everyone had won.
Later, Elgin stated that competing alternatives would be evaluated and the best chosen, but at a public meeting, a levee was the only option presented.
Three politicians, Linda Langston (Linn County supervisor), Pat Shey and Chuck Swore (Cedar Rapids City Council members), held a “big invitation only” private neighborhood meeting Sept. 3 to discuss this public project. My wife, I and others were purposely excluded.
After our signing voting documents for her an voting for her, Langston resents us by preventing our participation in a flood-protection discussion.
I am a Korean War veteran and probably qualify for an Honor Flight, but these politicians’ and some neighbors’ acts say I’m not qualified for inclusion in their discussions about flooding protection for my home. I hope other veterans and those who believe in democracy will remember this.
The flooding protection provided by other engineers for Grant Wood Area Education Agency is just one of several alternatives that should be discussed and offered here.
The Gazette-reported million-dollar cost of a levee could have its funds redirected to buy out the inconvenience of having a short, attractive flood wall in front of some homes where the floodwater depth averaged only about two feet. The cost would be less, the protection level higher and it would not remove flood plain areas that the creek needs or affect nearby properties.
I’m not against a levee but am concerned about this process that has too quickly chosen a very expensive levee as the choice with too little consideration of alternatives. The process has too greatly represented the interests of flood victims and is not representing the interests of the now silent creek and its unstated need to keep the flood plain that is presently has.
The interests of those properties that will be affected by a levee and a 20 percent narrower flood plain also need representation. A plan is needed that does not consume the 140-plus feet of flood plain that a levee will delete.
The proposed levee’s location would eliminate about 800 square feet of the floodwater flow area that existed in front of my home during the 2002 flood. What effect will the elimination of that flow area have on future flood water levels and other properties?
The proposed levee route is where some 2002 floodwater depths were 8 to 10 feet deep. Do those depths define the levee as being located too far on the flood plain? Should the design be taking away, maintaining or giving back flood plain area? What will reduce runoff and justify less flood plain?
The quick choice of a levee seems a selfish choice that makes no effort to obtain a proper balance to the conflicting needs of the flooded homeowners, the needs of the creek and its flood plain and the need to protect adjacent properties. The cost of that need imbalance will too soon arrive if the imbalance caused by a levee is imposed upon the creek.
l Marv Rops of Cedar Rapids is a retired consulting civil engineer. Comments: (319) 362-4695