Cape tax would fund 24 storm-water projects

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The price of progress can be measured in growing storm-drainage problems in Cape Girardeau, city public works director Tim Gramling says.

"As more development occurs, storm-water problems have increased," he said.

City officials have identified 24 storm-water projects that are needed to fix lingering drainage problems.

Those projects would improve storm drainage over more than 7,500 acres, Gramling said. The acreage includes 640 commercial properties, more than 5,600 residential tracts, 81 agricultural properties as well as another 285 properties owned by the city, state, churches and schools.

The city currently doesn't have the money to pay for the storm-water projects.

But a proposed half-cent sales tax for parks and storm-water projects would solve that problem, Gramling said.

The city's parks and golf course advisory boards have recommended the city council place the tax issue on the November ballot. A simple majority would be needed for passage.

The majority of the tax revenue -- about $4 million a year -- would go to parks projects and services. The plan envisions spending, over an unspecified number of years, more than $35 million on parks projects and vehicles and equipment for the parks and recreation department and $5.16 million on storm-water projects.

In addition, the tax would generate an estimated $950,000 a year to fund parks department operations and $250,000 a year to fund storm-water operations.

While parks improvements may be a more attractive issue to voters, the city needs to address storm-drainage problems, Mayor Jay Knudtson said. He added that residents are reluctant to support such taxes until the situation becomes a crisis.

"The problem is that it is not sexy," Knudtson said.

The tax plan would provide $2.47 million to alleviate repeated street flooding at 11 locations in the city, $1.5 million for four storm-water detention and runoff-control projects, $490,900 for replacement and repair of substandard drainage structures, $490,500 for four channel stabilization projects and $153,700 to install flood monitoring equipment at the LaSalle Detention Basin.

The sales tax also would provide $100,000 a year to cover expenses associated with meeting expanded federal and state storm-water regulations, $100,000 for maintenance of drainage structures and $50,000 for future capital improvement projects.

The projects to alleviate street flooding include one at Cape Rock Drive and Scivally Park where water regularly covers the roadway during heavy rains and a low-water crossing on Howell Street that also floods frequently, Gramling said.

Improving the drainage at Howell Street would cost nearly $700,000, officials estimated. The Cape Rock Drive project would cost more than $300,000.

The list of projects also includes replacement or repairs to the Merriwether Street drainage tunnel. The brick tunnel, which drains part of downtown Cape Girardeau, is more than a century old. The city needs to install a new pipe or put some type of lining in the tunnel, Gramling said.

Even if voters approve the proposed sales tax, it would take years for the city to complete all the listed drainage projects, he said, and the number of drainage problems continues to grow.

"There will probably never be a shortage of projects to do," Gramling said.

335-6611, extension 123

Projects list

Proposed storm-water projects and estimated costs

Street flooding projects

* Howell Street at Scivally Fork, $698,300

* Melrose Avenue, 2400 block, $549,000

* Margaret Street and Janet Drive, $329,400

* Themis Street and Silver Springs Road, $307,200

* Cape Rock Drive at Scivally Park, $300,100

* Aquamsi Street at Missouri Dry Dock, $105,300

* Whitener Street and Silver Springs Road, $65,900

* Kingsway and Kingsbury drives, $55,000

* Bloomfield Road and Broadview Street, $27,500

* Amblewood Drive, 1500 block, $27,300

* Ferndale Drive and Nottingham Lane, $14,000

Detention and runoff-control projects

* Arena Park along Optimist Drive, $868,800

* Cape West Business Park area, $391,400

* Lisa Drive detention basin, $150,000

* Carolina Lane and Grandview Drive area, $137,300

Replacement and repair of substandard facilities

* Saratoga Avenue culvert, $150,000

* Briarcliff Drive culvert, $150,000

* Beavercreek Drive basin repair, $103,000

* Merriwether Street drainage tunnel, $87,900

Channel stabilization projects

* Breckenridge Branch, $206,000

* Dorothy Street drainage area, $206,000

* Cape LaCroix Creek/Arena Park, $56,000

* Cape LaCroix Creek/Shawnee Park, $22,500

Flood-control capital project

* LaSalle Detention Basin flood monitor equipment, $153,700

General projects

* Storm-water regulation compliance, $100,000 a year

* Storm-water maintenance projects, $100,000 a year

* Capital improvement projects, $50,000 a year

SOURCE: City of Cape Girardeau

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