The proposed Oxford Point drainage project was the bulk of the discussion at McPherson's City Commission meeting on Monday. Dr. Greg Thomas who lives at 411 Ponderosa Court spoke in the public input session about the project. Ultimately, Thomas believes that the drainage should go on one side of the UP railroad tracks so as to avoid a railroad trestle near his home. The city does not agree, as the engineering studies that have been done over the last four years show that the most cost effective solution is on the other side of the tracks.
Mayor Tom Brown provided background on the project. Mayor Brown said, "In July 2010, we had a number of families on a rain that [water] was coming right up to the edge of their houses, and they were emotional about that."
Commissioner Alkire, the then Public Works Director, Doug Whitacre and the mayor all went out to look at the area to see what could be done.
There is a ditch behind those homes that is to be deepened as part of the new drainage. It's a more severe solution than the city was initially looking for, but it's where they are right now.
Mayor Brown said, "We started this by having a lesser ditch, and the use of riprap so that it would be easier to take care of. We ended up having to submit this plan to the Army Corps of Engineers, because they say its a navigable waterway capable of supporting aquatic life. When they looked at it, they said that you had to have a much deeper ditch, and that the riprap was disallowed because it didn't allow enough water to soak into the ground. Even if we used the riprap with holes in it, which would have been sixty percent absorption, they said that was not enough."
"So, we went, because of what they [the Corps of Engineers] would only approve, to Wilson and Company and had a hydrology study and worked to where we're at today. The water that has to go by First Street is the reason for the big retention pond on the west side of the railroad track. It's to slow that water down so that it makes the bend so that it can keep going on First Street. Without that, this ditch puts too much water down across First Street. That linear retention pond is not for the people that are living along Oxford Point. It's to slow the water down before it goes to First Street. If we built only that, it would not help the water behind Oxford Point. I want to make that clear."
"We took the extra step, we had a verbal approval from the Union Pacific that, you can go ahead and do what you need to do, as long as you'll help us with our trees because we want to take them down. We're willing to do that. But, about a year ago, I think I upset everybody in the City by saying put this project on hold. We [were] ready to go out for bid within a week. Put it on hold. I went to Wilson and Company. I went with a Senior Partner of Wilson and Company in Kansas City over the hydrology study. I asked many of the same questions that you are asking today. What about First Street? What about the retention pond? Do we really need this this deep? And, I've been with several of you a number of times. And I came back with the same answers."
There will be a meeting for those concerned about the project Tuesday night, September 16th at 6:30 p.m. Commission approval for the project is slated for next Monday.