116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - About 120 residents who care about the coming flood protection system in and near the Time Check neighborhood in northwest Cedar Rapids turned out last night to tell city officials and engineering consultant HR Green Inc. what it should look like.
Jim Halvorson, an HR Green vice president and principal, had participants in the Harrison Elementary School gym sit in 10 groups and had each group work to agree on goals for flood protection, where they want the alignment of the protection to be and what enhancements, such as more expensive removable flood walls, they'd like to see.
The city's budget calls for much of the west-side protection in the area below Ellis Park to Interstate 380 to be earthen levees.
Last night's workshop does not mean the city is starting from zero.
In 2008, the city spent considerable money and time, with input from experts, the Army Corps of Engineers and the public, to create a 'preferred” flood protection plan, which the City Council approved in November 2008.
It has been the guideline for the city's flood protection plans ever since.
Even so, Mayor Ron Corbett last night said residents had asked the city to take a 'fresh look” at the 6-year-old plan, and that is what the city is doing.
Dave Elgin, the city's public works director, said the so-called preferred plan always has been a concept that established a flood protection corridor with flexibility built into it.
It is time to pin down - with the public's help - exactly where the final alignment of the system is going to be now that $264 million in state money will be coming in over 20 years with additional federal dollars still expected, Elgin said.
Halvorson said HR Green will take the ideas from last night and see how they fit into the city's flood protection budget, the hydrological requirements of the system and state and federal regulations.
A second meeting is slated for Dec. 4, and a third meeting for the entire city is set for mid-December.
Aggie Doyle, president of the Northwest Neighbors Neighborhood Association, said she asked her association's members to participate with an open mind. She said she wants to see whether changes can be made to the 2008 concept that might allow residents along the river to stay in place.
Mike Augustine, a retired Cedar Rapids district fire chief, is among a group of neighbors whose homes along Ellis Boulevard NW back up to the Cedar River, and he said last night he wants to stay put and remain unprotected by the system.
'What else they do, I could not care less,” Augustine, of 1865 Ellis Blvd. NW, said.
Rick Davis, who moved out of the neighborhood after the flood, said most of the city's preferred plan is acceptable. But he said the city doesn't need to push Augustine and his neighbors out of their homes.
Al Pierson, owner of Pierson's Flower Shop and Greenhouses, 1800 Ellis Blvd. NW, said the city's 2008 plan is a good one and the alignment that is part of it is the one he favors. He said a lot work went into the plan back then.
City Council member Scott Olson is part owner of the Hubbard Ice commercial building, 1124 First St. NW, which is in the way of the alignment in the city's 2008 plan, he said.
As a property owner, Olson said he, his partners and their 20 tenants want to see whether the alignment can change.
He said the city's 2008 plan was a 'quality” one, but it was put together shortly after the flood at a time when 'people were still in shock.”
Earlier Thursday, council member Justin Shields said he was 'concerned” that those participating in last night's workshop would think they alone would be designing the city's flood protection system.
The city isn't 'starting from scratch,” he said.
Council member Ann Poe said enough time has passed since the flood to give the city a chance to step back and 'see what is possible and is not possible.”