SLP greenlights modeling to inform drainage solutions

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

The Spring Lake Park City Council April 17 OK’d hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of the city’s storm water system, as well as taking basic steps to update its Local Surface Water Management Plan.

To meet basic requirements set by the Metropolitan Council, updating the plan will cost approximately $28,300. Hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, an option given by the Met Council, will cost an additional $14,000.

Phil Gravel, Spring Lake Park city engineer, called the modeling “a necessary thing to do,” even though it is not mandated.

With many community concerns about drainage being brought to the city’s attention over the last year, particularly after a heavy rain storm in September 2016, city staff has been evaluating the current storm water management system, which was installed in the 1960s.

Pipes and storage ponds are used to accommodate drainage, most of which flows west toward University Avenue. Some flows into Fridley, and some flows into Laddie Lake.

The city has been taking a closer look at the following areas where flooding has been reported: Able Street between 82nd and 83rd avenues, Garfield and Hayes streets, Fillmore Street near 83rd Avenue, the Spring Lake Park High School football field, Monroe Street at 83rd Avenue, Oak Crest Senior Housing, townhomes on Terrace Street, John Conde Park and University Service Drive.

Conducting hydrologic and hydraulic computer modeling would allow for engineers to study exactly how Spring Lake Park’s storm water system would function with storms of varying sizes.

“If we just jump in to try to do some improvements in some of these flooding areas (now) – putting in pipes or catch basins or even … buying property and putting in a pond – that’s tens of thousands of dollars to do those improvements. Without the model, we don’t have a high degree of confidence as to whether or not those improvements would work,” Gravel said.

Funding is available after a small budget surplus last year. The $42,300 could be transferred from the general fund to the storm water fund to pay for the study, according to City Administrator Dan Buchholtz.

“I would rather spend the money than play hit or miss,” Mayor Cindy Hansen said.

Council Member Bob Nelson said the study seems worthwhile.

“I hate unfunded mandates, and I’ll always get up and stomp my feel about Met Council making us spend money,” Nelson said. “But I think this is one of the times we can justify going a little over so we can get some answers and some peace of mind for residents.”

Results of the modeling should be available to the council by July, and a public presentation will be scheduled during a future council meeting.

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