By Andrea Cordle
Grove City councilman Roby Schottke remembers flooding in the area back in the 1970s when he was first buying a home. He said in the early 2000s he remembers not being able to get to work on Park Street due to water in the downtown area. Then Schottke fielded calls from concerned residents about their properties flooding due to a 10-year rain event in March of this year.
“This is not a brand-new thing,” said Schottke at the March 20 council meeting. “This flooding issue is not going away, and it is time to help.”
Schottke introduced legislation that would enact a wet basement grant program. The plan is to set aside $200,000 from the city’s sidewalk program to fund the wet basement program. The program is designed to help property owners with flooding issues in their homes.
According to the legislation, grant money would be provided as a one-time reimbursement and matched at 50 percent of private investment up to a maximum of $5,000.
Homeowners eligible would be in historic flood prone areas within Grove City bounded by Parlin Drive on the north, Hoover Road in the east, Casa Boulevard on the south, and Demorest Road through Rockledge Street on the west.
Those who apply for the program must submit an inspection report and estimate by either a plumber, home inspector or contractor. Applicants also must be current in their real estate property taxes and must be in good standing with local, regional, state, and federal taxing authorities.
Some of the projects that would be covered are measures that would prevent basement flooding like installing a backflow prevention device or replacing a sump pump.
In May, Cindi Fitzpatrick, the city’s service director addressed flooding concerns and potential solutions after a severe rain event in March, which dumped several inches of water in the area in a short amount of time. After that event, the service department received about 100 calls or emails from residents who reported water in their basements.
According to Fitzpatrick, the older neighborhoods in Grove City saw the most impact from the storms due to an aging stormwater drainage system.
“Most of the flooding occurred in areas where sewers were built before 1960,” she said.
Fitzpatrick said she supports a program to help residents with flooding issues. However, she believes the proposed wet basement program should have a narrower scope and target the areas most affected by flooding.
The city’s administration has been evaluating a private property protection grant program that would be like the dry basement project in the city of Columbus. This grant program would support the installation of backflow preventers in private residences.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said he wants to take care of health risks and take care of people but sees the wet basement program as “far reaching.”
Schottke said he does not see the program as being any different than the city’s sidewalk program or the Town Center commercial grant program where the city matches funds to help the property owner with maintenance issues.
To clarify the intent of the wet basement program, council agreed to delay the vote on the legislation and discuss it again in August.