MADEIRA BEACH – Whenever priorities are discussed for the city of Madeira Beach’s list of infrastructure and capital improvement projects, a fix for the stormwater system has been at or close to the top.
Flooding issues have been among the most numerous of concerns routinely expressed by residents at city commission meetings.
Few were surprised, then, when a study of the aging and deteriorated stormwater infrastructure released in late February showed large areas of the city subject to major flooding problems. Cited among the problems were clogged and inadequate pipes, and a lack of control devices.
The study results revealed the extent of the stormwater system’s woes. Nearly 80 percent of the outfall pipes have some degree of clogging, and many are of an inadequate size, the findings showed.
The problems are many, and the solutions recommended by the study group were costly. Between $13 million and $20 million is needed to solve most of the problems, depending on the level of sophistication required for the fixes.
The stormwater issue was back at the top of the agenda at the commission’s April 30 workshop, the first meeting that included new commission members Elaine Poe and Pat Shontz.
City Manager Shane Crawford told the commission the city should address the stormwater flooding problems by taking care of the most critical, and least expensive, need first.
That would be the cleaning out and maintenance of all the outfall pipes in the city, he said. Crawford warned the project would have to be bid out, as the city no longer has the staff to do the work. The cost is estimated to run around $100,000 compared to the millions needed to undertake more elaborate solutions involving pump stations and control devices.
Crawford said the outfall pipes will be cleaned and unclogged, and then it will be determined what effect that has on the flooding.
“If it has a significant effect, then spending more money (on expensive solutions) is problematical,” he said.
Al Carrier of Deuel & Associates, a Clearwater engineering firm, said his company would videotape all of the city’s outfall pipes to determine their condition.
“Then we’ll know what pipes need to be taken care of immediately, and which can wait awhile,” Carrier said.
He said some pipes may need to be cleaned every few months, while others can possibly wait a year and a half or so.
Some may need to be repaired or replaced.
The stormwater flooding control project will be done in conjunction with road paving and refurbishment, because the two go together, Mayor Travis Palladeno said. Some roads have been improperly milled, and curbs have been paved over, he noted.
“We keep paving over the top of roads and people wonder why water is in the road and in their yards,” Palladeno said.
Crawford said requests for bids for the cleaning and maintenance of the outfall pipes will go out soon, and a bid would be awarded within 60 to 90 days.
Madeira Beach uses groins to shore up the sand and protect its beaches. The city’s 21 groins work well, Crawford said, but are now in need of repair. About $100,000 is expected to be spent on the project, he said.
The new groins, which will have a vinyl strip, will match the color of the sand, Palladeno said.
They will be more attractive than the existing groins, Crawford added.
Commissioner Pat Shontz said the use of groins has “saved the government millions of dollars” in sand replacement costs over the years. Most other beach communities participate in periodic sand nourishments done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
City clerk appointed
The commission appointed longtime employee Aimee Servedio as city clerk.
Servedio had been serving as city clerk pro tem since last November when she replaced Ginger Stilton. Prior to taking on the city clerk responsibilities, Servedio had served for years as assistant to the fire chief. She has been handling both jobs under the interim arrangement.
Palladeno termed Servedio’s appointment “awesome.” Shontz called her “fantastic.”
Her salary will be $63,500 per year.
Commission workshop broadcasts may end
Workshop meetings, which are now held in the city hall auditorium, may be moved to the back conference room.
Their broadcast on cable TV and the Internet also may be stopped. The time would be changed from the current 6 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The changes were recommended by Shontz as part of a review of the City Commission’s policies and procedures.
Shontz said the conference room offers a table where work can be done more effectively. She favored ending the public broadcasting of the meetings “so I can say what I want and don’t have to watch my language.”
Workshop meetings were held in the conference room until mold was discovered in 2011 and the room was found to be generally deteriorated.
Crawford said he would look into making the change, assuming the room no longer poses a health hazard. He told the commissioners to “prepare to get wet when it rains.”