- September 30, 2020
Windermere officials have tabled decisions for individual project orders for two drainage-improvement projects.
Following more than three hours of discussion during the Town Council meeting Nov. 10, council members ultimately voted to put the individual project orders on hold. They now can decide to hold a special meeting at a date to be determined to take a look at revised IPOs.
IPOs identify the scope, schedule and fee for engineering services for the design and permitting of dirt road and drainage improvements along existing dirt roads.
The town was awarded a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program grant for stormwater improvements for the Butler Street basin area — namely Butler Street and Seventh Avenue — in the amount of $80,000 for design and between $500,000 and $700,000 for construction. The grant also requires the town to contribute 25% of the project cost, which for this project would be $195,000.
Additionally, the town received an HMGP grant for stormwater improvements for Bessie Street and Ninth Avenue. The grant includes $90,000 for design and $1.1 million for construction. The town would need to contribute 25% of the cost, or $297,500.
Discussion regarding concepts to improve stormwater drainage has been ongoing for a few months, with no real consensus reached to date. Many residents voiced their displeasure for the concepts Kimley-Horn has presented thus far. Their concerns included the size, scope and impact of the projects.
“Residents are exhausted by this,” resident Nora Brophy said. “It’s been going on for months. We’ve been asking questions, we’ve been getting answers, and then answers change. … It’s impossible for residents to understand what we’re doing here. This whole FEMA thing has been so haphazard and so pushed. You’re asking residents to give you an enormous amount of trust and essentially a blank check, and we don’t have anything to look at. I don’t think that’s fair for the residents.”
When grants are involved with such projects, a municipality typically is required to adhere to guidelines from the granting agency. Windermere residents have expressed concern over guidelines and how they could impact the charm and character of the town.
“In my opinion, grant money has nothing to do with this at all — whether we get it or not, doesn’t matter — we have a stormwater issue, and there are many homeowners that are drastically affected by it.” — Andy Williams, Windermere Town Council member
Current concepts include swales and berms as methods for carrying the runoff water. However, they would require some right-of-way in front of some homes.
Christine Huffman told town staff and council members although money is necessary, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s grant simply may not be a match for what the town residents are “clearly and overwhelmingly stating.”
“We have not maintained the plans that we have,” Huffman said. “Before we can move forward with something new, I think we need to maintain what we already have in place. … This is a huge undertaking for our town, and it’s something that overwhelmingly, I feel — as you can see by the letters, the people, the attendance, the engagement — people don’t want this. … They do not want this plan, they do not want these spaces taken up in the easements. They don’t want the swales, they don’t want the berms.”
Council Member Andy Williams said grant money aside, what remains are the stormwater-drainage issues that homeowners have been facing.
“In my opinion, grant money has nothing to do with this at all — whether we get it or not, doesn’t matter — we have a stormwater issue, and there are many homeowners that are drastically affected by it,” Williams said. “But we need a direction to go with and to come up with a plan for this. We have to move forward with something. We can’t keep kicking this down the road. … We need to do something. … I think we cannot just back up and throw everything we’ve done so far out the window.”
Council Member Liz Andert added that although only some residents may be experiencing stormwater issues, they stem from a larger problem with the basin.
“It has to do with the basin in its entirety, and so we have to look at some things that might create some discomfort in some areas to help fix some things for people who are really experiencing pain or have in the past,” she said.