Contract approved for flood mitigation evaluation

Contract approved for flood mitigation evaluation

Friday, December 25, 2020

Melanie Wilkinson

YORK – The York City Council has agreed to enter into a contract with JEO Consulting Group which will now do a flood mitigation evaluation for the city.

This goal of the study is to eventually reduce the size and number of flood plain designations in the City of York.

The cost of the contract is $70,000 -- $75,000 had already been included in this year’s budget for this purpose.

Last year, the floodplain maps for York were updated and many owners found that their properties are now considered to be in a flood plain, even though they historically have not been.

Frei explained, “The city (with the assistance and support of the Upper Big Blue Natural Resource District) has applied for a ‘planning’ fund grant to conduct a flood mitigation and resiliency evaluation. So far, the city has not been successful in obtaining this grant since the state emphasized money go to disaster areas hardest hit in the flooded areas.

“The NRD has recently completed two large planning projects led by JEO Consulting and has been pleased with JEO’s work,” Frei said. “These included the Upper Big Blue Multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Upper Big Blue NRD’s District Water Quality Management Plan. The City of York participated in both of these planning efforts. Both entities have had a working relationship with JEO concerning flood plain studies during the following the update of the hazard mitigation plan. Due to JEO’s recent activity with that effort, and with their initial investigation of the city’s flooding issues, JEO’s knowledge of the city’s flood concerns provide them with an advantage over other consultants. If other consultants were to be considered, such would have to spend a great amount of time researching data bases and would likely charge more to conduct the study.”

“In 2019, the Upper Big Blue NRD agreed to provide financial support to the city to revisit and hopefully reduce the size and number of flood plain designations in town,” Frei says. “Through an interlocal agreement with the city of York, the NRD has pledged to provide 50 percent of the local cost share not to exceed $20,000 to help in this mitigation study.

“JEO would take the recent flood insurance rate map updates for the city and indicate increases to the floodplain in and around the city,” Frei explains. “The goal of this project is to perform a reconnaissance level feasibility study to identify potential flood risk reduction and mitigation measures that may include measures to reduce flood risk in and around the study.”

“It is anticipated that after the planning phase of this study is complete, the city will again seek mutual grant funding for the actual implementation phase, in the fiscal year of 2021-22,” Frei explains further. “The city would request cost share assistance from the NRD for the implementation of these projects.”

“We have been working with JEO on this, to see what we can do about this, since FEMA put so many additional properties in the flood plain,” said Mayor Barry Redfern.

“Again, we are recommending JEO because it’s in the city’s best interest,” Frei told the city council. “We have worked with them, the NRD has worked with them, they already have the data. Remember, this is just the planning stage. The implementation stage will go back to the NRD to see if we can get another grant.”

“This won’t get anyone out of the flood plain quite just yet, but this is a start,” Redfern added.

Craig Vincent, a homeowner in York, addressed the council, saying, “When this started, a lot of homes were mapped in to the flood plain that weren’t previously. Yes, this is an additional cost for the city, but the impacted homeowners have already been greatly impacted. As taxpayers, what we are now paying in flood insurance dwarfs the amount the city is paying (for this study). I’ve been advocating for the city to get involved in this. The city has been actively working toward new housing projects and I think it is equally important to preserve our existing housing. I encourage you to approve the study.”

Councilman Matt Wagner also said he wanted to remind everyone that “FEMA did this, the city had nothing to do with this, just to clarify,” as far as the redrawing of the flood plain maps and the inclusion of dozens upon dozens of residential properties now suddenly being included the flood plain.

“This is just the first step to seeing what we can do,” Redfern said.

The council unanimously agreed to move forward with the JEO contract.

Add new comment