Urbana OKs study of flooding problem

Company will determine possible solutions.

Staff Writer

URBANA — More than a dozen residents in Urbana’s 4th Ward have dealt with flooded basements and damaged homes in recent years, but a study approved earlier this week may shed light on the problem.

City Council members unanimously approved a roughly $7,400 contract this week with the Floyd Browne Group to review the situation and determine what, if any, solutions might exist.

Mac McCauley, project manager for the company, said the study could be completed within two to three months.

“This is basically a first step to review and consolidate the info, and we’ll go from there,” McCauley said.

Most of the damage has occurred on Pindar, Hagenbuch and Mosgrove streets, said Kerry Brugger, director of administration for the city.

Jack Roberts, a Pindar Street resident who has dealt with the issue since 2009, said it’s too early to say if the effort will help him and roughly 20 other neighbors who are dealing with the problem. But he said it’s a start.

“I’ll take anything that would help the situation,” Roberts said.

Water broke through his basement floor in 2009, leaving more than five inches of water behind.

Addressing the problem was one of the new administrations’s earliest goals, Brugger said. The study will allow the city to frame the problem more clearly.

“You can’t get to step two until you get step one figured out,” Brugger said. “That’s where we’re at.”

The cause of the flooding has been debated by residents and city officials since the issue began. Some residents believe the flooding is related to a local construction project that took place a few years ago. City officials have said in the past it is more likely the result of large amounts of rain the area has received in recent years.

“I’m hoping that this is a step in the right direction,” said Anna Chamberlain, a Pindar Street resident whose basement has been damaged by flooding. Still, it is unclear whether the new study will provide much benefit to homeowners whose homes have already been damaged, she said. The last time it occurred, the flooding left water in her basement for seven weeks.

“We managed to reclaim the use of our basement, but we did not try to make it back to where it was because we don’t know (flooding) won’t happen again,” Chamberlain said.

Residents will also be kept up to date as the study moves forward, said Virginia Smith, a council member representing the 4th Ward.

“I want the public to be involved in the process,” Smith said.

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