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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2021 3 months ago

Windermere presents updates on Butler basin project

Staff from Windermere and Kimley-Horn hosted a workshop to provide updates on the ongoing Butler basin stormwater drainage-improvements project.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

Windermere residents had another opportunity for input regarding the ongoing Butler drainage improvements project through a public workshop June 3.

Town staff and Kimley-Horn representatives were on hand to provide project updates and field any questions or concerns. Solutions for stormwater-drainage improvements have been in the works for months now.

Windermere received grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program following Hurricane Irma to allow staff to move forward with such projects to help alleviate flooding issues.

“Hopefully, we’ve been able to develop a plan that will work for you all but at the same time work for the protection and engineering of our lakes,” town resident and engineer John Fitzgibbon said. “That’s kind of the compromise we’re always trying to achieve. At the end of the day, our biggest picture here is to protect the lakes, our town and our charm.”

Town Manager Robert Smith reminded attendees the design plans still must be approved by Town Council, so there will be more opportunities for public input. 

“Once we get to 100% (design), then we can go ahead and have another workshop, bring it to Town Council, have them approve it, and then we can go ahead and move forward with construction,” Smith said. “Again, this is a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funded through FEMA and the state, so we have some timelines that we have to meet. But we believe that what we’re going to design will meet the intent of the grant so it’s not coming out of the stormwater fund or the town coffers.”

Hao Chau, of Kimley-Horn, summarized the current design plans to help alleviate the flooding issues. The 45% design plans are available for viewing on the town website.

“The three main tenets we learned from the study are (to) keep the roads dirt, keep their existing widths and their charm, and also avoid tree impacts,” Chau said. “Those three tenets were our guiding principles in establishing our 45% design and refining that from the study.”

Chau said Kimley-Horn plans to match the roads’ existing grades as much as possible and pitch them away from areas that are currently prone to flooding.

“We’re pitching the road away from the low-lying areas into swales where we can capture them, retain them and convey them to the outfall in order to avoid the issues that you are currently experiencing,” he said.

At Butler Street and Sixth Avenue, the road will be sloped to the east, and a concrete shoulder gutter and gutter inlets will catch the stormwater flow and convey it south. Drop curbs will allow for smooth entrances into homeowners’ driveways.

“Because we have shoulder gutter and inlets here and because this is the upper part of the basin that doesn’t receive the majority of the runoff just yet, we were able to utilize the curving (to) avoid ditches in this area and avoid any impacts to existing septic systems and trees,” Chau said.

Moving farther south, everything naturally flows toward the lake. Kimley-Horn’s goal is to capture runoff before it gets to the lake and pitch the road so erosion issues are alleviated. Chau said the team is working with the public works department to find dirt-road material that will help with erosion control.

The main goal for Fernwood Park is to try to control the flow from Butler and Seventh so it doesn’t enter the park. Here, Kimley-Horn proposed vegetated swales and grading for the parking and driveway areas so runoff drains into them.

Finally, about halfway between Forest and Main streets, the Kimley-Horn team has proposed a V-shaped swale to help efficiently capture runoff. 

“I know a lot of effort and care has gone into this, and I appreciate that,” said resident Annamaye Clonts. 

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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