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Wheelock and Watkins drain project OK'd by local board

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April 10, 2013 - Goodrich-In a special meeting on April 9 at the village offices, a board of determination made up of Richfield Township Supervisor Joseph Madore, Mundy Township Supervisor David Guigear and Argentine Township Supervisor Robert Cole voted 3-0 to move forward with a Wheelock and Watkins drain project.

The Wheelock and Watkins drain is an agricultural drain, built in 1897. Over the past century the drain, which encompasses a large section of the village, has been modified. In 1996 the village administration filed a resolution with the county to update and redirect the drain; however, the project never moved forward due to a lack of easements received by the county.

Since then several residents and businesses within the drainage area have reported flooding in their homes. The flooding issue drew the attention of the community following a July 28, 2011 rainstorm that dumped several inches on the village and area.

Terese Allen, 8087 Ridge Road, said more than a foot of water accumulated in the lower level of her 4 bedroom home causing an estimated $40,000 in structural damages and $15,000 in the loss of personal contents. Water spilled through the window sills and poured through into the basement.

"If I read and added correctly, the county time and materials reports show that since 1994 we have spent $81,945.28 on Band-Aids for the Wheelock and Watkins drain," wrote Allen in a report to the board of determination. "It is truly unfortunate businesses and residents within this drain district will bear the financial burden to right the wrongful neglect of the village, but some members of council and the administration have known for 17 years that updating the drain was not only necessary but that there was a public need for the safety, health and welfare of their residents."

The Wheelock and Watkins drain project was jump started last fall after councilmen Richard Saroli and Doug McAbee began circulating a petition in October to collect signatures of those living in the drainage district. The 18 signatures required were collected and petitions turned into the Genesee County Drain Commission. The board of determination, comprised of municipal administrators not associated with the impacted area, provided an opportunity for residents and officials to discuss the project.

Susanne Kubic, drain engineer for the Genesee County Drain Commission, also attended the meeting and said 118 village parcels could be impacted by the drain project. The impacted owners were notified of the pending project—however, Kubic added that it could take three to four years before the drain work would start.

"The next step is a study and an extensive survey of the drain area," she said. "There may be several options for the new drain providing possible soloutions. There are many factors to consider and it may also include extending the drain. The engineering process will allow for feedback from the public and input from the Genesee County Drain Commissioner. The cost will certainly be a factor to consider, as is the easement issues."

Mark Baldwin, village council member, attended the meeting and asked Kubic if this Wheelock and Watkins drain project would resolve the flooding issue.

"The drain will be designed to handle a 10-year flood event," she said.

A ten-year flood is a flood event that has a 10 percent probability of occurring in any given year.

"But I cannot guarantee every weather condition can be handled."

Not all who attended the meeting agreed with the project.

John Helms, Goodrich Country Club course superintendent, suggested other alternatives to the flooding problems.

"The Goodrich Country Club and Golf Course is one of the highest taxed properties in the community. The course has the most acreage on the drain and will pay the highest assessment for the project, if it does go through. We suggest grants to help us build deeper ponds on the course to take the water," he said. "Help us so this project does not put us out of business."

While the cost for the project was not discussed, county officials say the village, county and residents all will pay a portion of the project.

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