Aldermen award contract for annual monitoring of Northwoods Branch drainage improvements

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously awarded a contract for annual monitoring of drainage improvements in the vicinity of Northwoods Estates subdivision.
Board members took the action during their Dec. 18 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Kelly Rector and seconded by Alderman Billy Ray Morris.
The board unanimously authorized the bidding process at its Nov. 20 meeting, and the bids were opened on Dec. 17.
The associate director of The University of Tennessee’s Water Resources Research Center recommended that Civil and Environmental Consultants Inc. of Franklin, Tenn., perform the monitoring.
Mayor Chris Goodman is authorized to pay the company $5,000 for an “initial preconstruction baseline assessment” and a $5,000 annual monitoring fee for a three-year period, at a total cost of $20,000.
The board expects to receive funding from the 2012 Community Development Block Grant for the initial assessment, but “recognizes” that it is “unlikely” for the required annual monitoring.
During discussion at the Nov. 20 meeting, Town Engineer Ken King recalled that, in June and July 2009 and May 2010, Oakland experienced “heavy storms.”
He noted that at least seven residences were flooded on Black Ankle Drive in the Northwoods Estates subdivision. So, Oakland and Fayette County jointly conducted a flood study of Black
Ankle Creek.
The study, which was completed in September 2010, presented three recommendations:
(1) Replace the culvert at Highway 194 and Black Ankle Creek.
(2) Reduce the water level in the retention basin.
(3) Enlarge the channel that the retention basin flows into.
King recalled that, two months after the study was published, Community Development Partners in Nashville notified him that $1 million was available through disaster funds. So, after preparing engineering reports and cost estimates, he submitted an application in late 2010.
He noted that, in 2011, the Tennessee Department of Transportation “apparently agreed” that the culvert is too small and replaced it with a bridge.
While noting that the $1 million was awarded in 2012, King said $150,000 was recently added to that. With those funds, culverts will be installed to lower the water in the retention basin, and the channel will be made three times larger.
But because that is called “waters of the state,” Oakland was required to obtain a special Aquatic Resources Alteration Permit.
For three years after the project is completed, the permit requires annual monitoring for “qualitative habitat assessment, a Tennessee “hydrologic determination” and vegetation monitoring.
Oakland also has to plant “1,032 saplings” to slow the water as the town is attempting to remove it.
During discussion at the Dec. 18 meeting, King said the “experts” have to ensure that the stream has returned to being “more of a natural stream,” so the “critters” can grow properly in it.
In response to questions by Rector and Alderman Karl Chambless, King said this is not his “design,” but a “mandate” from the state.
“I wouldn’t be digging a channel and planting trees in it,” he acknowledged. “I want the water to flow.
“It was a part of the deal,” he noted. “They didn’t really want to give us the permit to do what we want to do. And so, it’s either do this or forget it.”
Alderman John Troncone asked whether the state would “come back with something” if the town said it does not need the trees in the stream.
King recalled that his “heart sank” during his initial meeting with the state officials, who said they could not approve the town’s request. Citing the Loosahatchie River, they said it was “a horrible thing” to straighten it out and dredge it many years ago.
“That’s really what we’re doing here,” King noted. “We’re straightening that channel out and making it so it can flow. But the compromise here is that we’re going to go back and plant the trees.”
Although it will not be as good as he wanted, King said it will be “a lot better than it was.”