County working with Andrews on flood issues

The Andrews Town Council reported that Huntington County was working with the town to alleviate flooding issues at Loon Creek at its meeting on Monday, May 13.

The board stated that county officials backed a plan that would see the bridge over Loon Creek on West McKeever Street in town replaced with a higher and widened bridge that would be more appropriate for the area, which is a floodplain. The county, said council, would foot the bill for the bridge. While work is still two to three years away, commented Council President Bill Johnson, he said that county officials had moved the project up on their list of priorities.

Additionally, the county intends to begin pursuing a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would facilitate the purchase of properties that are situated in the floodplain. Council remarked that nine properties had been identified for potential acquisition. Should the owners of those properties agree to sell them, the houses on them will be demolished.

The board stated that none of the property owners were obligated to accept a potential buyout offer. Council stated that such an offer would see a property owner offered the appraised value of their property, plus a relocation stipend. The board intends to send the owners letters detailing the situation.

While the town would not bear any of the costs associated with the building of a new bridge, it would be on the hook for 10 percent of the total property buyout cost.

Johnson expressed enthusiasm that the chronic flooding issues in that area were set to receive much-needed attention.

“This flood problem down there has been an issue for this town that’s been sort of overlooked for years and it’s time now to get it addressed and it sounds like the proper time to do just that,” he said.

On a related topic, council received an update from Jay Stankiewicz regarding the contract the town had signed with his employer, engineering firm Fleis & VandenBrink. At the board’s behest, Stank-iewicz reviewed the services enumerated in the contract, stating that the town was paying the firm to do the engineering legwork for a proposed stormwater system on McKeever Street, running from the town limits to Loon Creek.

Johnson and his fellow councilmembers appreciated the reminder, as they had forgotten the contract included that service.
 “We actually thought we were going to bid it once we got the grant; now we understand we’ve already paid for it,” said Johnson of the engineering services.

Clerk-Treasurer Laura Dillon remarked that the town was $15,000 away from paying off the contract, which totals $76,120.
In other business:

– Council gave Dillon permission to send the State Revolving Fund (SRF) a letter indicating that the town would not be pursuing grant money to upgrade its water plant until June 2020 at the earliest. The SRF requested that the town submit such a letter as the board is currently pursuing a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs that would fund the installation of the aforementioned stormwater system on McKeever Street. The state does not allow towns to have more than one open CDBG grant at a time.

– Stankiewicz will furnish the town with examples of an ADA transition plan and a Title VI implementation plan, which are two documents that the state is mandating the town complete.