Thursday, September 26, 2002

42 homes pegged for buyout

Fairfax unsure how it will pay for flood plan

By Steve Kemme,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFAX — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is recommending the buyout and demolition of 42 homes in this village's Little Duck Creek flood basin.

        Before Fairfax can agree to the corps' $7.8 million plan, however, village officials must decide how it will fund its $2.7 million share of the cost.

        The recommendations are a scale-back from the corps' original plan, which called for the demolition of 78 homes. The corps agreed to revise that plan when Fairfax officials said the village could not afford its $4.9 million share.

        Roger Setters, project manager for the corps' Louisville office, will present the new plan to village officials and residents at a meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Fairfax Recreation Center on Hawthorne Street, next to the village municipal building. U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, will attend.

        The 42 homes that would be demolished are in the eastern half of the village's Little Duck Creek flood plain. They include the Simpson Road home in which a man and his daughter died in July 2001 when rushing floodwaters caused a basement wall to collapse.

        Details about how the homes' value would be determined, and with whom residents would negotiate, were not available Wednesday.

        Mike Bohlen, who lives in one of the houses that would be bought out and demolished, praised the corps' revised plan.

        “We're excited about the headway that's been made with this second report coming in,” he said. “I'm very optimistic.”

        The village will be working with Mr. Portman and other state and Hamilton County officials to obtain grants to fund its $2.7 million portion of the cost.

        “We'll have to figure out how we'll come up with that money,” said Jennifer Kaminer, the village administrator.

        Besides buying and demolishing 42 houses, the $7.8 million project includes removing bridges on Bedford and Bancroft streets, removing utilities and converting that area into a park-like environment.

        Mr. Bohlen said he's glad that virtually all the flood-damaged homes in the eastern flood plain will be bought and torn down.

        “The only guarantee we have that people here won't die again in a flood is if these homes are bought out,” he said.

        An $820,000 grant from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and a $110,000 local match from the village will enable most of the homes that were damaged in the western half of Fairfax's Little Duck Creek flood basin to be flood-proofed. Twenty-three of 26 homeowners in this western flood plain decided to participate in this program.

        Several of the 23 homes will be bought and demolished.


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