Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Fairfax seeks help on water woes

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFAX - Between threats of the Little Duck Creek overflowing and basements flooding from clogged sewer pipes, village officials are searching for financial help to tame the water and please residents.

Mayor Ted Shannon said one of the latest options is to have a hydraulics company review the $8 million report of the U.S. Corps of Engineers to see if the cost can be shaved, or the size of the project reduced.

The corps' plan calls for flood-proofing and buying out 41 houses, and stream restoration east of Watterson Avenue.

"We haven't been able to come up with our local share of $2.4 million," Shannon said. "We are also seeking funds from the State Hazard Mitigation Program. ...We plan to file for those funds by June 13."

Shannon said the village has received $987,000 from that program to buy out seven houses and flood-proof 17 on the west side of Watterson.

The village's share for that was $112,000.

Residents have become disgusted with the talk of flood-proofing and buyouts, seeing no progress from one flood to the next.

"I don't see why village officials feel it is more important to spend millions of dollars to build a flood wall to protect businesses and do nothing for the residents," said Rebecca Botkin, 3975 Watterson Ave. "It seems that we are being punished just because we didn't get flood insurance when we bought our houses. When I bought my house here 32 years ago, it was not in a flood plain. I am totally disgusted with what is going on."

The Corps of Engineers' flood protection program on Big Duck Creek, to which Botkin was referring, started in 1988 at a cost of $14 million and has escalated to a $34 million price tag. The federal government is picking up 75 percent, with 25 percent from local governments. The city of Cincinnati is due to kick in $3.5 million and Fairfax $928,000.

Several phases of the project have been completed. It stretches from Columbia Township on the north and runs to the Little Miami River along Big Duck Creek. It was designed to protect the main business district of Fairfax from flooding.


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