City completes another step in stormwater plan

Gary B. Gray • Nov 1, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Known affectionately as “Pindzoli Pond” by Public Works Department Director Phil Pindzola’s employees, the Boone Street Detention Pond near downtown now is a fully operable part of Johnson City’s long-range stormwater mitigation plan.

Workers on Wednesday were finishing paving work on both Boone and West King streets, sweeping excess dirt back into the dry pond and spreading Kentucky Fescue grass seed around the pond’s perimeter.

The repaved area on Boone completes the realignment of that street separated by West King, which previously had been constructed in a way that made it a bit of an obstacle course for motorists. Along the entire length of King, a wide parking area is being constructed. This will serve two purposes: it will add parking as well as improve the flow of water thanks to a design that increased the height of the part of road nearest the pond in order to help it move on to the McClure Street sump — another in-house project between Boone and the U-Haul site.

“We’re trying to eliminate the water that was moving down Market to the downtown area,” Pindzola said while surveying the site. “The storage capacity is 4- to 6-acre feet to where the pipes pull the water into King Creek. It was designed to store a total of 10- to 12- acre feet total, but it would likely spill over onto McClure at that point.”

A hard, rippled material has been placed at the four intersections that serve as pedestrian crossing points and entries onto the new 5- and 6-foot-wide sidewalk that surrounds the entire structure.

The pond also was specifically designed with a low point at West Market and Montgomery, allowing floodwater to easily enter the pond. The design also includes two, semi-circular areas at the intersections of Boone and West King and Montgomery and West King. Grass is being seeded in these areas and they also will be landscaped, as will the pond’s perimeter.

In 2011, the City Commission approved a resolution establishing fair market value of about $800,000 for six properties bounded by West Market, Boone, King and Montgomery streets, including the property formerly owned by then-City Commissioner Jane Myron known as Black Tie Formal Wear.

The buildings were demolished in 2012, and the needed improvements generated by excessive flooding on King Creek onto Market Street and downtown are now complete. Basically, the idea was to remove these structures to provide a holding area that would detain runoff and let it flow into a lower portion of the creek.

Funding for the acquisitions, demolition, paving and concrete and piping have added up to roughly a little over $1 million, not including costs incurred by the city’s Public Works Department, which used its equipment and employees to complete the project.

The city’s long-term plan originated nearly 10 years ago when heavy downtown flooding prompted the formation of a Storm Water Advisory Task Force and later the Downtown Storm Water Task Force. The result was the targeting of each major drainage basin downtown and in 2007 the establishment of a stormwater fee to help pay for the opening up and rerouting of King and Brush creeks.

In July 2012, commissioners approved borrowing $6 million to pay for three phases of its $30 million long-term flood mitigation plan.

The $4.5 million Founders Park project along West State of Franklin Road is up next. This major renovation of Brush Creek with lots of greenspace and other amenities is set for completion at the end of next month.

Meanwhile, the City Commission next week will consider bids to demolish WW Cab Co. on North Commerce Street. The city acquired that property last year and it hoped to initiate a project that incorporates that property and the downtown U-Haul site into what will be a major flood mitigation project at perhaps the lowest point and problem flooding area in Johnson City.

Following an unsuccessful court battle by the company to discredit the city’s legal acquisition of the property, all eyes are now on that site. According to a settlement agreement, the company has until April to vacate. Should they fail to do so, they must pay the city $10,000 per month until they are out. If they have not moved by December 2014, the company faces legal eviction from the premises.

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