EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSHuntington City Council To Vote On Stormwater Plan
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Videographer: Kenney Barnette
Reported: Jun. 23, 2014 3:27 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 23, 2014 5:53 PM EDT
Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia
It's been an issue in Huntington for years. When it rains, most likely, it floods.
"Every single time it rains, I'm worried about which road to go down. And I know what not to ride. When you go down Fifth (Avenue), don't ride in the far left lane because it's going to eat your car," Kristy Henson said.
Lisa Messer works downtown, and said when she drives home after a rain, she tries to steer clear of the viaducts.
"They're always flooded, and that's horrible," she said.
City officials said the problem is an aging sewer system and years of inaction. A new system could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but Mayor Steve Williams said he made it a priority to start addressing the problem.
"For 67 years, we've been talking about how our streets have been flooding, and nobody's been willing to step up. Finally, finally we've been able to step up right now and be able to do this," he said.
After getting feedback from community members, businesses, real estate developers, churches and city council, Williams proposed merging the Floodwall Division, Stormwater Division and Sanitary Board to form the Water Quality Board. A water quality service fee for residential and nonresidential customers also would be imposed later this year.
"This is a comprehensive effort. It's fair. It's equitable. It encourages development in the city, and it gives us the ability to ensure that we can pay for the millions of dollars in projects that we have to undertake within the city," Williams said.
Most residents would pay about $7.15 a month. Some said they are willing to pay the price.
"I think $7 a month, if it's really going to help the flooding issues, then I don't have a problem with it," Messer said.
While some residents hate to pay any more in fees, others say it's an issue that needs fixed, whatever it takes.
Henson said she would definitely "pay the extra to help see the city grow and have less damage."
Meanwhile, the mayor said it is a flood control measure and certainly welcomes the scrutiny and "the expectation that now we quit talking about it and start doing something about it."
Williams also proposed an ordinance that would reduce the municipal service fee for residents from $120 to $108 since some of that money had funded the Floodwall Division, which would benefit from the new water quality fee.
The council will vote Monday night. There will be a public comment portion before that vote.
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