City Commissioners approved a resolution to move forward with the River Renewal Feasibility Study at their meeting this past Monday.
Martha Tasker, Utilities Director, took the podium to start. While running through a quick history of what has led up to this point, Tasker reminded the commissioners that on November 1 of this year, a study session took place with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and HDR present. It was here that a proposed schedule and a possible path forward were discussed.
In anticipation that the proposed plan would be approved by the City Commission, it would be in late 2022 that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could possibly have the plan approved and funding would potentially be available. This would allow the City to complete the project partnership agreement, and that in turn would include the design and construction for the project, and define all the project responsibilities. With this, construction could possibly be completed in 2025.
Tasker pointed out that "These are our best guesses today. That's always a moving target, pending funding and other issues that come about."
Two alternatives were presented to the public at a River Project Update at the Tony's Pizza Events Center, on December 1. As Tasker described it, Alternative One "was a flowing channel. Basically, it was a channel that had a consistent depth and was cut to flow water. It had no intention of looking like a river channel or a stream. The estimated cost was $15.65 million."
Meanwhile, Alternative Two included an "excavated channel that was designed with riffles/pools that were much deeper, that brought on the appearance of a more natural river and would support ecosystem life." The cost for this alternative was $16.65 million.
Tasker did point out that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers prefers Alternative 2, due to it providing the most ecosystem benefits.
"Public input has been important through this process", Martha Tasker said.
At the formal presentation on December 1, 125 people were present. In addition, 371 people viewed the presentation on some form of social media.
"A survey was provided for public feedback, and 87 surveys were returned," Tasker said.
According to the survey, Alternative 1 received 91% of the votes. Waiting on additional funding received 79%. Building now with local funding received just 18 votes.
Back in front of the Commissioners, the City's cost-share is 25% of $10 million, plus 10% of everything over $10 million. The project partnership agreement cannot be executed until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until the project is approved on their end, and until funding from them is in place.
The motion passed 4-0. Mayor Hodges was not present.