Much has returned to normal in Columbus since our flooding event in March.
Of course, those that were directly affected may still be struggling with clean up and repairs. Many of our county neighbors are still navigating around detours due to bridges out, road closures and other factors. The governor was in town recently and met with County Supervisor Engdahl and myself. We toured some of our damaged areas.
As I have mentioned before, the city was blessed to have come through the flooding with minimal damage. Don’t get me wrong, we had some damage, but in most cases, the city’s damage was to structures or facilities that many citizens do not see or have daily interaction with. Two items that suffered damage and needs attention are our levee and Quail Run Golf Course (the south side of the levee).
The levee, which I truly believe saved our community, sustained many areas of surface damage and erosion. The integrity of the levee cannot be compromised in any way. So these issues will be addressed immediately and are why access to the levee has and remains limited.
The engineering firm JEO, that designed and coordinated the past reconstruction of the levee, has surveyed the damages, documented it, and put together a game plan to get things fixed. Certain items will be fixed by staff. But some items will be farmed out to companies that specialize in these types of repairs. The initial estimate for the levee repairs is over $400,000.
Another property of the city that suffered excessive damage was Quail Run. The golf course has 11 of its 18 holes located on the south side of the levee and this area was devastated by the flood. The damage is so bad that dollar damages have not been determined yet. The course has refigured the north side of the levee and made nine functioning holes. This gives us the nine playable holes at Quail and nine holes at Van Berg.
Lots of homework will be done as we look at repair options. This is the second serious flooding event to affect the course on the south side of the levee. Is it wise to stay there? Should we learn from Mother Nature? What are the costs? All these questions will need to be answered. At this point, we have learned that our insurance does not cover this damage.
As the repair assessments are being weighed we will consider the golfing needs of our community and the changing demographics of the golf industry. Golfing is an amenity that many in our community expect. To them, it is a Quality of Life item and something that makes Columbus a better place. All of this needs to be weighed in any decision.
We know the cost to rebuild or build anew will be great. We know insurance isn’t in the picture. FEMA assistance is possible (we are currently trying to get these answers). The point is this will be a major expenditure that certainly wasn’t budgeted and was nowhere in our playbook. So again, lots of homework to do.
The Council gave approval to the paving of Third Avenue, south of Eighth Street. This will be getting started soon. The 12th Avenue viaduct will soon see construction beginning. I am excited to see our second viaduct underway-we have waited a long time for this. There are multiple street improvements that will be taking place all around the city this summer. We also know that the flooding and all the excessive road damage around the state will have an impact on the timing of some of our projects. This is understandable.
We continue to do “round table” presentations regarding our Library. Getting together with citizens all over the community presenting ideas and listening to feedback. What is needed, where should it be located, what is the pulse of the public. As previously announced and reported, Karen Connell has accepted the position of library director. Karen was serving as our interim director and will be an excellent fit for this position.
The old Walmart redevelopment is moving forward with more construction. Of course, the new Bomgaars is open and appears to be doing good. Now dirt work has begun in the southeast corner, up against Taco Bell, with the construction of the new Hampton Inn.
Housing starts are happening all around town. Multiple foundations have been poured near the National Guard Armory. Farmview, near the airport, is getting infrastructure installed. A new addition was just approved for Meadow Ridge. Lots of housing activity.
Within a few weeks, our area seniors will be graduating. And although many will be moving forward with continuing education plans many will be looking at entering the workforce. We need to do our best to try and convince these graduates that their dreams can come true here in Columbus. These graduates represent the future growth of our community. We want them and we need them. If you have an opportunity to influence any of these graduates please do so. Remind them-Something Good Columbus!
Jim Bulkley is the mayor of Columbus.