By David Fleet
Goodrich- On Monday night, Jeff Wright, Genesee County Drain Commissioner, attended the village council meeting to discuss the computation of costs and plans for upgrades of the Wheelock & Watkins Drain in the village.
The planned work on the agricultural drain built in 1897 encompasses 139 homes within the village. The old drain, under the jurisdiction of Genesee County, has been one possible cause of flooding of several residents’ homes over the past few years. About seven years ago, the flooding intensified, prompting village officials to engage the county drain officials to investigate the issues.
As a result, petitions were signed and in a special meeting on April 9, 2013 at the village offices, a board of determination voted 3-0 to move forward with an upgrade to the Wheelock & Watkins Drain.
“The drain commissioner does not have the authority to just come in and do a project because we feel it’s necessary,” said Wright, during Monday’s meeting.
At the time of the determination of necessity for the drain upgrades, supervisors from Mundy, Aregentine and Richfield townships chaired a public hearing and said the project should move forward. The petitioned that prompted the public hearing included many signatures from village residents and council members at the time, Wright said.
“In a general sense the Wheelock & Watkins drain project was petitioned for and by the people of Goodrich,” he said. “It was determined necessary to do the work by an independent panel of three individuals made up of township supervisors. Under PA 40 that (action) requires the county drain commissioner to move forward with the project. We will be borrowing the money shortly.”
The construction contract of $548,106 came in below estimates, added Wright. The total cost is about $775,000. The project includes a 12 percent contingency of about $86,000 plus engineering costs.
“We’ve never had any project go over the contingency,” he said.
With a 15 year assessment the cost to the village is about $25,000 plus interest. A 20 years payment is about $19,000. Each property owner within the drain district will be assessed about $3,000 on their taxes over 15 years.
Wright explained the delay in the project was due to several factors including easement issues in the village that held the project up for about 18-24 months since 2013 when the upgrades were announced. In addition, only two people from the drain commission are covering the county with about 96 projects ongoing.
“The new system is four times the diameter of existing system,” he said. “It (Wheelock & Watkins) was put in the ground when there were 20-30 homes in Goodrich. It’s way undersized.”
Weather will be a determining factor in the project that should start in 4 to 6 weeks.
The county drain commission will now seek bids on bonding in the next weeks. Then an apportionment hearing, where all the people in this area are notified and there is a 20 day appeal period for all the residents and the village of how we came to the special assessment. Once that is over construction can start.