Members of the city's flood remediation committee, part of the Vision 2030 effort, discussed the flooding situation with Mayor Jim Orr, City Administrator Dennis Pyle, Street Superintendent Russ Balmas, Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch, Building Inspector George Rausch and Assistant Building Inspector Wade Ennis.
Having reviewed maps and development of land east of the city, Rauch said he has found the large proposed dam east of the city is still feasible. New housing added since the Schaller farm sold in 2006 has not been erected in land needed for the proposed retention basin.
The land is no longer for sale. Under terms of the previous proposal to build the dam, the city was obligated to acquire all the land and necessary easements for the facility. Rauch said it would be necessary to get back on the Natural Resources Conservation Service's plan for action, since funding for the project had been reallocated since the city had not acted over the past several years.
The idea of opening the bottleneck for draining water out of the west end of Front Street was discussed at length. A committee member argued that significantly increasing the flow of water under the railroad tracks through construction of a bridge, then widening the drain field under Central Avenue, would improve conditions for merchants on Broadway more than any one other project.
Drainage of Kelly Creek, Rauch said, still depends on having a channel where water from downtown can go. Clear Creek can act as an obstruction by being full on its own, giving the water from downtown nowhere to go.
Retention basins for Clear Creek, which fills from the east by way of Monett's South Park, need to be considered as part of an overall strategy, he added.
A number of business operators along Broadway attended the session. Pyle asked them for views about a voluntary federal buyout of chronically flooding land. The response was generally favorable, even from long established businesses. Many business operators wanted to stay together to retain a sense of downtown if they relocated to higher ground.
Monett City Council members subsequently met to discuss possible funding sources for flood mitigation. In looking for a regional solution involving the large dam, council members agreed to send the NRCS study of the Kelly Creek watershed to Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt's office.
Other plans coming out of the flood mitigation committee would be used in conjunction with the regional approach.
Congressman Blunt, who appeared at Apple Butter Makin' Days in Mt. Vernon on Saturday, told The Times he had read with interest the account of the Oct. 8 flood on Broadway. The increasing frequency of flooding in Monett suggested to him that something significant has changed in the local situation.
Blunt said he was looking into ways the federal government could help.