At the June 28 work session, the Wildwood City Council agreed to move forward on a proposal with U.S. Geological Survey in the amount of $170,500 to perform a study of Caulks Creek over a two-year period.
Joe Vujnich, director of parks and planning, said the Watershed Erosion Task Force has been working for two years to identify problems with erosion in the city’s nine watersheds, in particular those of critical urgency. According to Vujnich, a majority of the most critical locations are those threatening public infrastructure or private properties with structures or buildings.
The study will monitor bank erosion at key sites along Caulks Creek and do an analysis of the storage capability within the watershed and where the city can improve it.
“There is not enough capacity in terms of storage in the watershed to hold the water back during high-intensity storm events,” Vujnich said.
Results of the study will be used to create a model to demonstrate problem areas in the future. In addition, it would give the city leverage for grant funding proposals and help promote potential projects.
The city’s budget has $125,000 earmarked for stormwater projects, but of that $13,000 has already been spent on consultant fees and another $15,000 to $25,000 remains in outstanding balances, Vujnich said. He suggested waiting until the mid-year budget review to have a better understanding of the city’s finances. But council member Katie Dodwell (Ward 4) believes the city needs to move forward.
“We’ve been dancing around this issue for a couple of years now,” Dodwell said. “Let’s get some real work done.”
Council member Lauren Edens (Ward 2) made a motion to fund the first year of the study at a cost of $105,200, using some funds from the city’s capital improvement budget. The $65,300 cost for the second year of the study would then be discussed at the 2022 budget meeting. The council unanimously agreed.
City Administrator Steve Cross discussed future funding options available for watershed erosion projects that could include placing a bond issue on an upcoming ballot, which would require a 2/3 majority vote; imposing a 1/4-cent sales tax; a 1/2-cent stormwater tax; or a property tax.
Task force co-chair Joe Farmer (Ward 4) said he believes a 2/3 majority vote would be hard to achieve but realizes that the ongoing maintenance issues will require an ongoing funding mechanism.
Currently, there are six sites the task force has deemed urgent with a cost of approximately $6 million, Cross said.
The council also discussed options for restoring Lake Chesterfield, the seventh item on the city’s priority list.
Council member Nathan Hopper (Ward 7) said that ongoing conversations with the Homeowner’s Association and the lake committee had narrowed possible actions down to two options.
One is to drain the lake, fill the holes with a Bentonite compound and then refill the lake. Repairs made in the past are still holding, but more holes have been identified, Hopper said. However, he added, that work was performed without the benefit of a survey showing what the ground looked like underneath and the major trouble points.
The other option would be to put a liner in that would completely seal off the lake. While it would provide a permanent solution, that option is more work-intensive and expensive, Hopper said.
The first option is estimated to cost $350,000 and the second closer to $750,000. The council is expected to decide on the funding method for the lake at its July 26 meeting.