JACKSON CENTER – Record rainfall brought extensive flooding to the Village of Jackson Center last summer, and that flooding initiated a storm water study to determine ways to avoid a similar situation in the future.
The results of that study were presented to the Village Council Monday evening.
In mid-June 2019, Jackson Center experienced a record 10.41 inches of rain in five days, receiving more than 5 inches of rain in one day alone. The unusually heavy rainfall quickly filled all catch basins to capacity, and the major tributary that normally carries the water away from the village overflowed onto area farm fields north of town until the water had no place to go but up.
The village has several storm water retention basins in place including several new ones that were incorporated into new housing developments and on the grounds of the newly constructed Airstream manufacturing facility on the west side of town.
During the flood of June 2019, much of Jackson Center was underwater, causing several million dollars in damage. It was not something anyone living in Jackson Center ever wanted to witness or experience again including Village Administrator Bruce Metz, who immediately contacted Choice One Engineering in Sidney to request a storm water study.
During the pre-scheduled portion of Monday’s Village Council meeting, Ryan Lefeld of Choice One was on hand to reveal the results of the study and shared several options on how to come up with a permanent solution in the event the village would ever see that kind of rainfall again.
“With growth and progress comes ever changing conditions,” Lefeld said, noting that although the heavy rains experienced last summer was something that normally occurred about once every 100 years in the past, a trend of higher than usual rainfall in recent years indicates the likelihood of a similar situation in the not so distant future is quite possible. “The village has a watershed of approximately 500 acres, and the water normally eventually flows north out of town. Our study provides several ways to move forward with controlling those excessive flood waters. It will be up to you to determine what option best suits your circumstances; there is much to be considered before coming to a final decision.
“Obviously the more dirt we move, the greater the cost, so the least amount of change and working with what is already in place is better than doing a major overhaul. We can possibly add a pumping station and/or extend or deepen the existing retention basins to help slow the excessive flow of runoff going into the existing waterways that carry it away; fortunately we have many options, which allows for more flexibility concerning what course of action to take.”
Concerning costs associated with protecting the village from flooding, the study indicated the village spends about $50,000 to $60,000 per year to maintain the storm water runoff system; funds for that maintenance comes from the village general fund, a situation which may need to change in the future to ensure there is support for modifying and maintaining the system.
“At present the village uses money from the general fund to deal with storm water, which puts an ever-increasing strain on the budget, so the village may want to consider developing storm water utility to help cover those costs,” Lefeld said. “Our studies show that the average cost in neighboring villages is about $3 to $4 per month per household. Instituting that kind of support would at least ensure the village breaks even on shouldering the cost of something that benefits everyone living there.”
Mayor Scott Klopfenstein indicated his support of creating the utility.
“A few dollars a month is a small price to pay for considerable piece of mind,” Klopfenstein said. “I think most people would be more than happy to contribute to something that would help all of us, especially after seeing how disheartening and devastating a major flood can be.”
Agreeing with Klopfenstein, Metz recalled the feeling of despair when the phone was ringing off the wall and people were knocking at his door all hours of the day and night, looking for answers to the natural disaster that plagued the village.
After sharing the possible options and details of the report, Lefeld agreed with resident Wayne York, who suggested looking into possible land acquisitions if needed before moving forward with any other aspects of improvement, especially if there is a need to design and create an additional retention basin.
Metz indicated he would gather information immediately to make a reasonable decision on which option to pursue.
Also in attendance was head of Plastipak Packaging research and development Zach Liebrecht, who said the village had its full support in coming up with a viable solution to the flooding issue.
In old business, council passed Ordinance 2020-001 providing for the employment of legal counseling by reinstating a contract with the attorney Michael Burton of Wapakoneta; the contract is good for one year.
In new business, council passed Ordinance 2020-007 renewing the issuance of bonds for the land purchased for annexation on the village’s west side. Council also passed two resolutions, one authorizing Metz to advertise for bids for the village’s West Pike Street traffic signal at the Airstream plant and another to authorize Fiscal Officer Bev Wren to advance monies from the general fund to cover part of the costs associated with the municipal swimming pool renovation. The money allocated for the pool project will be reimbursed when grant funding from a grant is received later this year.
In committee reports, Leisha Elchert reported the Jackson Center Fire Department had eight runs so far this year. Fire Chief Jerry Davis indicated the department had recently completed its testing and maintenance on the emergency air-packs and reported the annual Fireman’s Soup-Supper fundraiser was well attended and thanked everyone in the community for the continued support.
Before going into an executive session for the purpose of discussing the purchase or sale of land for a public purpose, Metz reported all village operations were on schedule and going smoothly.
The next regularly scheduled Jackson Center Village Council meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Council Chambers; the public is encouraged to attend.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.