At the May 6 Great Bend City Council meeting, the governing body approved a study to look at groundwater flooding issues in the Amber Meadows neighborhood. This followed many complaints from residents there about their basements flooding and a lack of storm water drainage.
Monday night, it was the same song, second verse.
This time residents of the inundated Stone Ridge area attended en masse to plead their case. In all, 16 residents attended the meeting to discuss water damage.
Many felt they’d been given short shrift by the council. But, they were assured they’d been heard and several city officials left the meeting to view the damage first hand.
“I am here representing our neighborhood of Stone Ridge,” said Janet Reed. “We at Stone Ridge, like Amber Meadows (and we sympathize with them), are in the same position they are.”
Amber Meadows is located in the northwest corner of Great Bend. Stone Ridge sits in the northeast corner.
Sump pumps in Stone Ridge have been running since January and there are 13 homes with water in the basements, Reed said.
“I know the community feels we are a privately developed area,” she said. But, “we feel we are in the city limits, we drive over city streets and pay city taxes just like Amber Meadows.”
Reed said the city signed off on the platting for Stone Ridge and put in the streets. “But, they did not provide water drainage outlets.”
The residents have tried to help themselves “at their own expense,” she said. They rented a “very large” pump from Rosencrantz-Bemis, a local water well and drilling company.
They are draining a large water-catching lagoon east into the flood control canal to try to relieve some of the groundwater pressure.
“We are asking the city to consider putting in a permanent draining system,” Reed said. In lieu of paying for a consultant, the residents recommend utilizing city engineering personnel and hiring a local firm to do the work.
Not pointing fingers
“We, as a neighborhood, are not pointing fingers at anyone,” she said. “But we ask to receive the same consideration as was granted to Amber Meadows.”
Stone Ridge residents have paid specials in addition to taxes just like their Amber Meadows counterparts, Reed said. They just want to be treated fairly.
They are also worried that changes in water flow in other parts of town, and even as far away as Cheyenne Bottoms, could impact their subdivision.
“We would like to work with the City Council, the mayor and the city manager to come up with a solution to solve this problem,” Reed said.
City Administrator Kendal Francis said he understands the concerns.
“Unusually wet conditions are creating city-wide concerns of water infiltrating into homes,” he said. But, “the City is aware of the situation, and while this is an extremely unfortunate and stressful time for home owners, there is very little, if anything, the City of Great Bend can do to help.”
On May 6, the city council voted to contract with groundwater specialists, SCS Engineers of Wichita to perform an analysis of potential alternatives to determine options for controlling the groundwater table in the Amber Meadows’ addition. “This action was taken to provide the city with a clear understanding of how groundwater affects the city-owned property, and thus be able to accurately inform future residents,” he said.
The cost of that study will be divided and assessed equally to the cost of future lots, thus reimbursing the city 100 percent. SCS Engineers has begun preliminary work with assistance from the City’s on-call engineering firm Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita. “A timetable for completion of the study will be published once it has been established,” Francis said.
“The City has received multiple requests to pump water from Veteran’s Lake,” he said.
“The City recognizes the problems of the Amber Meadows’ property owners,” he said. “However, similar problems are being experienced by homes throughout the city. Artificially lowering the level of the lake would create a precedent that is beyond the city’s limited financial resources.”
He said the city will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.
After Reed gave her remarks under the “Recognition of visitors” portion of the agenda, the council moved on to other matters. This didn’t sit well with the Stone Ridge residents who felt slighted.
In the middle of the meeting, the agenda was interrupted when the matter resurfaced. “This room is full of people who want to be heard,” one person said.
Mayor Joe Andrasek and several council members chimed in, saying they understood, but the issue wasn’t an action item and the meeting had to continue.
“We felt you dropped it like a lead balloon,” Reed said. “We just need a direction.”
Francis said he wasn’t in favor of doing the Amber Meadows study, but with that item, it was on the agenda and there was a concrete proposal on the table.
That was not the case Monday night with Stone Ridge. Besides, the lots in Amber Meadows are owned by the city.
Councilman Dana Dawson said it would be hard to find a time when Great Bend has had this much rain over such a long period of time. “You can’t make a town flood proof.”
He understood the plight of those present, but said at least the city didn’t flood as it did in 1981 prior to the flood control project.
Andrasek is also having to pump water out of his basement, but doesn’t live in either neighborhood. He said he would visit the Stone Ridge area after the meeting.
“We do care,” said Public Works Director Simon Wiley. He, too, planned to visit Stone Ridge Monday night.
Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance:
Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:
• Considered a proposal for work sessions. City Administrator Kendal Francis and Councilwoman Jolene Biggs suggested adding work sessions for council.
• Authorized the Independence Day Fireworks Show at Expo Grounds on July 3, 2019.
This Ordinance amends the hours during which sales of fireworks may be carried out to 8 a.m. to midnight from June 27 to July 3, and 8 a.m. to 1O p.m. on July 4, City Attorney Robert Suelter said.
The hours had been 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. from June 27-July 4.
• Held a public hearing on the Eighth Street assessment costs. At the May 6 meeting, the council approved the assessment costs for the street improvements, sanitary sewer improvements, and the water improvements for $707,419.88, $61,456.25, $96,123.87, respectively, for a total project cost of $865,000. A notice was published in the Great Bend Tribune and mailed to each property owner on May 8, 2019, notifying them of the assessed costs.
An ordinance authorizing the action was also approved.
• Approved the installation of “No Parking This Side of Street” on east side of Morton Street north of 24th Street and south of 25th Street.
Morton Street north of 24th Street is approximately 30 feet wide. If vehicles parallel park on both sides of Morton Street, this narrows the street to a point that vehicles do not have enough room to safely cross directional paths with each other. Due to the proximity of 24th Street, this is especially dangerous, Public Works Director Simon Wiley said.
• Approved the installation of stop signs at the intersection of 12th and Stone Street.
There is no stop sign at the 12th and Stone intersection and the city has received many complaints from the public. East- and west-bound of 12th Street will have stop signs, and north- and south-bound of Stone Street will have right of way, Assistant City Engineer Sreehitha Kadiyala said.
• Approved the installation of stop signs at the intersection of Polk and Meadowlark. There is no stop sign at Polk and Meadowlark intersection and, again, the city has received many complaints from the public. East- and west-bound of Meadowlark Street will have stop signs, and north- and south-bound of Polk Street will have right of way, Assistant City Engineer Sreehitha Kadiyala said.
• Approved an amendment to the city ordinance on fireworks sales. At the May 6 meeting, the council determined that the hours during which fireworks could be sold should be expanded. This Ordinance amends the hours during which sales of fireworks may be carried out to 8 a.m. to midnight from June 27 to July 3 and 8 a.m. to 1O p.m. on July 4, City Attorney Robert Suelter said.
• Approved the publishing of a notice to solicit sealed offers to purchase real estate at 635 Main Street, a parcel consisting of just over two full vacant lots on the west side of the street at Main and Seventh.
The city owns real estate at 635 Main Street. A party has shown an interest in purchasing the real estate. In order to give the public a chance to purchase the real estate, if interested, the city will receive sealed offers to purchase until Wednesday, June 5, City Attorney Robert Suelter said.
• Approved a one-day cereal-malt beverage license. Greg King with the Sunflower Shrine Club has applied for the license for the beer garden during June Jaunt on June 1 in Jack Kilby Square.
• Heard Community Coordinator Christina Hayes’ monthly report. She focused on a busy May and the upcoming June Jaunt.
• Approved abatements at: 325 Heizer, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Baudilio Hernandez; 321 Heizer, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Misael and Sabino Rodriguez; 211 Pine, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Saul-Jesus Ramirez; 317 3rd, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Manuel Tavarez Valdez; 2306 Adams, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Brianna Feist; 1200 Polk, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, ATB Enterprises, LLC.; 1200 Polk, Motor Vehicle Nuisance, ATB Enterprises, LLC.; 1403 21st Motor Vehicle Nuisance, Keith M. and Cindy R. Patterson; 219 3rd, Motor Vehicle Nuisance, Armando Dominguez; 407 Grapevine, Motor Vehicle Nuisance, Miguel Gonzales; 301 Evergreen, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Hurvey D. and Gladys Chism; 301 Evergreen, Motor Vehicle Nuisance, Hurvey D. and Gladys Chism; 454 Evergreen, Motor Vehicle Nuisance, Mario Huitron; 1114 Holland,Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Stanley A. Kreigh and Kandyce L. Miskell; 1114 Holland, Motor Vehicle Nuisance, Stanley A. Kreigh and Kandyce L. Miskell; and 1412 21st, Accumulation of Trash/Refuse, Cynthia Loucretia Farris.