By Timothy Cox
Rockford officials continue to explore grant funding possibilities to help pay for flood mitigation efforts in the Market Street neighborhood on the west edge of town.
West Market Street, which becomes Rockford West Road outside the village limits, has been the site of severe flooding on several occasions in recent years, including the 2003 Independence Day flooding that affected the whole county. The area consistently floods when the rain comes in torrents.
The most flood-prone areas have remained high and dry, though, despite recent persistent rains.
"The drainage has been pretty consistent," Village Administrator Jeff Long said. "It's the rains where we get two to four inches of rain in a couple of hours that we get into trouble."
Village officials have developed preliminary plans to look at acquiring land and building a detention pond just west of town. Costs are estimated at $200,000, although the village does not have the funding to pay for the project on its own. Long said village officials are looking into a couple of sources for potential financial assistance. The Ohio Public Works Commission has an emergency assistance program, but Rockford already has twice tapped that fund in recent years to pay for projects that unexpectedly cropped up, including a broken sewer line that ran under the St. Marys River.
Long said he also is looking into funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But that program, he said, is at least a couple of years behind in funding projects. Rockford residents in the flood-prone area have urged village officials to find a quicker solution.
"The Army Corps of Engineers has a flood program but in reality, it would be at least two years, if we were approved at all," Long said.
If no grant assistance can be secured, the mostly likely scenario for a solution to the flooding problem would be a public petition effort to build the detention basin. That would require benefiting property owners in the area to help foot the bill for the project.
Residents also have complained that a system of drainage tiles that leads water from the center of town to the river is clogged, making the flooding problems worse.
Long said the tile in Shane's Park has been checked and is unobstructed and water is flowing freely. The tiles are not fully doing the job because they are too small, he said.
At one point along the line, two drainage pipes -- 15-inch and 18-inch tiles -- come together into a 20-inch pipe near the park. That represents a drop of about one-third in volume of water that can be carried away after the bottleneck.
Replacing the tile is not financially feasible. Engineers estimate a massive 66-inch tile would be needed to carry water between Market Street and the river at a cost of more than $1 million.