Council OKs creek repairs at Animal Shelter

The City Council approved moving ahead with short- and long-term solutions to repair the erosion of the creek bank at the Animal Shelter, even though federal money will not be forthcoming.

The council added up to $35,000 to the existing shelter renovation contract for immediate repairs to the western side of the creek and restoration of the pedestrian bridge, which was damaged by the December floods.

The council also directed the City Manager John Pietig to continue to pursue a project that would restore the creek bank, rebuild the parking lot and protect the shelter from damage, even without Federal Emergency Management Agency funding.

"I want to be sure the shelter doesn't fall into the creek," Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson said.

Pietig had hoped FEMA would at least pay a percentage of the estimated $175,000 to $200,000 for "in-kind" repairs that would fill the erosion areas with compacted soil, install a new pedestrian bridge on the existing foundation and restore the asphalt parking lot to its pre-flood condition.

However, he informed the council that FEMA had indicated it would not fund the "in-kind" repairs nor a city proposal for a long-term solution posited as hazard mitigation, estimated to cost between $600,000 and $700,000.

"The good news is we expect to get $100,000 from our insurance company to offset some of the estimated costs of the long-term solution," Pietig said.

For the short term, stone fill installed to allow construction equipment to access the shelter could remain in place to serve as a temporary revetment to provide a minimal level of protection to the creek bank.

The damaged concrete pedestrian bridge can be made usable by installing a new handrail or by replacing it with a temporary wooden bridge.

Pietig said investing a lot of money in the bridge would likely be counterproductive because the improvements would have to be removed when long-term creek repairs are made. A temporary wooden bridge is estimated to cost $15,000 of the $35,000 appropriation. The remaining $20,000 will be spent on the temporary creek repairs.

Moving ahead with the interim repairs at this time will cost the city about $140,000 less than the estimated "in-kind" project. However, the council made it clear it wants a more comprehensive project.

"I assure the council we heard you want a long-term solution," Pietig said. "We will be coming back to the council with full funding proposed for the long-term solution."

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