easement holdouts prevent work beginning on Belhaven floodingBy ANTHONY WARREN,
Plans to address flooding problems in Belhaven appear to be stalled, thanks to a handful of reluctant homeowners unwilling to grant the temporary easements for the work.
The city of Jackson is ready to move forward with the first phase of the Belhaven Creek Improvement Project but can’t do so until it obtains five more temporary easements for the project.
The easements are needed so contractors can legally access private property to make the channel improvements.
To date, the city has obtained 11 of the 16 needed for the work but has had trouble securing the last five.
Ward Seven Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay said part of the difficulty stems from the fact that three of the homeowners live out of town.
“We’ve talked to one of the homeowners, and he’s going to sign. We can’t get in contact with two of them. We know they received the documents, because someone received certified letters at those addresses,” she said.
Lindsay nor the city would release the names or addresses of the holdhouts.
The city was also still working with two local homeowners who also had yet to sign.
All of the easements for the first phase are located along St. Mary and Laurel streets.
“I remain optimistic that something can be worked out,” she said.
Lindsay was unsure what the city’s next step would be if the residents don’t sign and said she would rely on the department of public works and legal department for guidance.
The roughly $2 million project includes widening the creek from St. Mary Street to Laurel Street and adding a “concrete box” from St. Mary to Piedmont Street, said Jackson Engineering Manager Charles Williams.
In all, the creek would be widened by about six feet on both sides, meaning residents along the creek would lose about six feet of their back yards.
Between St. Mary and Piedmont, the creek bed will be lined with concrete to prevent erosion, and from Piedmont to Laurel, rip rap will be added to do the same.
A new box culvert would also be added at St. Mary to improve flow during peak times.
Box culverts are designed to be placed under a bridge or road to allow to water to drain under the structures unimpeded. The current box culvert is too small to handle the increased runoff from upstream.
Plans were drawn up by Jackson-based Southern Consultants. The firm was brought on in 2016, for approximately $225,000.
The project is being funded by the city’s one-percent infrastructure sales tax.
The creek serves the Belhaven drainage basin, which runs from Glenway Drive and Lakeland Drive in the north to Pinehurst Street in the south. East to west, the area stretches from Museum Boulevard to Veterans Memorial Stadium and Millsaps College.
Flooding along the creek has gotten worse in recent years, thanks to the increased frequency of heavy storms, as well as increased development upstream.
According to the National Weather Service more than 99 percent of the drainage basin is developed, with 41.58 percent of it being covered with impervious materials, such as concrete and other building materials.
Impervious materials do not soak up rain water like natural ground, increasing the runoff going into the creek