WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - At Tuesday’s meeting, Wilmington City Council gave the green light to the first phase of the Clear Run Branch Drainage Improvement Project.
The $11 million project will address longtime flooding challenges along New Centre Drive between South College Road and Racine Drive. The flooding issues stem from excessive upstream water that flows into Clear Run Branch, located behind Clear Run Drive in Wilmington. The project will also address challenges caused by stream bank erosion.
“The stream banks are vertical, it’s as deep as eight to 10 feet,” said Dave Mayes, the Director of city’s Public Services Department. “And when you have large rain events, the rise and fall of the flow in the creek creates a lot of stress on the stream banks and that stress is the reason that we have an unstable stream. This instability leads to trees that fall across the creek. Sometimes you have washouts along the stream banks. And so, our project is really intended to address the instability of that upper portion of the stream.”
This project has been years in the making. The design of the project began in 2014. Public presentations and property owner meetings began in 2015.
Part of this project includes drainage easement acquisitions on a total of 57 properties. Clear Run Branch and College Acres Drive needs to be restored to provide drainage relief. This means drainage pipes and culverts need to be replaced along with stream restoration improvements, and removing debris and invasive vegetation. But home and property owners are concerned.
“It significantly impacts my way of life," said Dan Kier. Kier has lived in his Clear Run Drive home for more than four decades. "I had worked and retired and planned to use this property 'till the day I die. And I’m not going to be able to use it the same way after the city takes it. I don’t really want their money.”
The City Attorney’s office is working with estimator and appraiser professionals, and with property owners to ensure fair compensation.
Kier says the city is going tear down several of the large trees in his yard and his shed.
“I come down to this shed, drink my coffee, read the paper in the morning,” said Kier. “I have folks come by and we eat lunch together.”
Kier says he understands the flooding on New Centre Drive is an issue, but thinks the city has other options for fixing that issue. He says he has been in contact with the city in recent weeks to schedule a meeting so Kier can explain why his property means so much to him.
“It’s something you work for all your life...for retirement," said Kier. "And here all of that is not being considered at all. And it’s, it’s extremely concerning.”
“There are certainly residents that are not directly impacted by flooding,” said Mayes. “But they are impacted by the fact that we need to acquire a drainage easement.
“It’s going to change the way their backyard looks. And we understand that and that’s...that’s why we’re we’re trying to go through a very thorough and fair and equitable easement acquisition process.”
The next step is the bidding process which is expected to begin by the end of the year.
For more information on the project, click here.