ELLINWOOD - Spring is right around the corner, and that means rain. At the Jan. 10 Ellinwood City Council meeting, City Manager Chris Komarek initiated a discussion concerning how the city would fund ongoing efforts to improve drainage to mitigate flooding that could result under certain conditions.
That happened most recently in 2014. A major rain event caused widespread flooding in the northwest portion of the city, prompting the city to order a study by civil engineers EBH & Associates to identify solutions to the problem. It was determined that existing drainage in the form of sloughs and ditches had been filled in over time with silt and brush, requiring removal and returning them to their original depth and shape.
“After a period of belt tightening, the city was able to accumulate enough funding to pay for the initial stages,” Komarek said.
In 2016, easement agreements were made with landowners on the outskirts of town, and brush along and inside the drainage north of the city and by the airport was removed. Thanks to the cooperation of Lakin Township and the Ellinwood Street Department, more has been accomplished than at first thought possible.
But in order to complete the project, the city will need several more $1,000 of dollars which are not in the budget, Komarek said. In fact there may be just enough left in the budget at this point to plant the ditches to native grass before the spring rains come, but that’s about it.
One solution is to issue a bond, which Komarek and City Attorney Bob Peter began looking into and reported to the council. Last year, the city retired the 1997 bond for the sewer plant build. In 2017, another bond will be paid off, leaving the city debt free, so starting over with a new bond is not out of the question, Komarek said.
Floating a bond issue is a time consuming and expensive process, so while they are in the preliminary exploration process, another infrastructure issue is being considered with an eye towards bundling the two together into one bond.
That issue is the poor condition of curb and gutter and streets in several locations, many of which need replacing.
Ellinwood streets are about one-third brick, one-third asphalt, one-third concrete, and a few gravel streets, Komarek said. The brick streets are in the worse shape, and Ellinwood Superintendent of Streets Kevin Clair advises replacing them. This would entail removing the brick and replacing it with either asphalt or concrete.
“The best option would be concrete, but it’s also the most expensive,” Komarek said.
Council members instructed Komarek to arrange a meeting with EBH & Associates to determine the scope of such a project taking into consideration what has already been completed. The topic will likely be on the agenda at the February Ellinwood City Council meeting, or in March.