Columbus Junction City Hall

Columbus Junction City Hall

COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Federal disaster assistance may be available to help fully repair a Columbus Junction street that reopened Wednesday after being damaged during a hill slide earlier this summer.

Columbus Junction city officials received the news about Oakview Drive on Wednesday during the city council’s regular meeting. A portion of the street slid several feet in late May following several inches of rainfall in the area.

A water line also was damaged and a sewer line affected.

City public works staffer Jeff Vonnahme told the council the street was now open with a gravel surface.

Meanwhile, City Engineer Matt Walker, French-Reneker, Fairfield, presented the council with an engineering services agreement to repair the water line.

According to Walker, the agreement provides $4,800 for French-Reneker to develop a bid package and another $3,800 for engineering services. Walker said the engineering services were being billed on an hourly basis.

“I don’t think we’ll use all of that,” he said.

City officials were anxious to see the work move forward since cold weather could impact the project. Currently a temporary, above-ground water line is providing water to several homes on the street.

Walker said he expected to have the bid package ready for council approval by its Sept. 11 meeting, with a bid opening by Sept. 25.

City officials were not sure that was soon enough.

“We could have a special meeting,” council member Phil Kaalberg said and the rest of the council agreed.

While Walker develops the necessary bid package, Mayor Mark Huston suggested the Federal Emergency Management Agency could be make a decision on providing disaster assistance for the project.

Huston and other city officials said several FEMA representatives had visited the site earlier in the day and would submit their report to other regional FEMA officials soon.

“I thought they were positive about helping,” Huston said, pointing out however that the inspection team would not be making the decision.

“There’s no guarantee, but it sounded positive,” he said.

Walker said if FEMA ultimately approves the site for disaster assistance, the costs included in the engineering services agreement would be covered, along with repair costs.

However, the city would likely still need to cover between 10 and 15 percent of the costs, he told the council.

Officials also indicated damages to nearby Ridge Road would also likely be included in the same FEMA assessment report.

While the news was welcomed by city officials, they acknowledged property owners, including one whose home was severely damaged in the hill slide, have not fared as well.

According to the officials, FEMA is not recognizing the hill slide as a flood event, preventing the owner from receiving any assistance.

In other action, Vonnahme reported work was progressing on the Locust Street bridge replacement project and Walker said a concrete pour was scheduled for Thursday.

City librarian Mandy Grimm also reported that Louisa County Extension Service Executive Director Kathy Vance and Louisa Development Group Executive Director Angela Shipley would assist her with providing Refugee Rise programming starting in September.

The program assists immigrants with a variety of services and education.

Grimm also said she was continuing with efforts to fill two 40-hour AmeriCorps positions.

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