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Drainage issue a major roadblock for local development PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kyle Arnoldy   

Further developing Holyoke continues to be a hot topic as city council members met for a work session Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Rupert O’Neal attended the meeting alongside attorney Russell Sprague to discuss the best course of action to move forward with Robin Lake Development, residential development on the south end of Holyoke.

At past council meetings, Sprague has represented O’Neal in discussions regarding developing commercial lots south of Cobblestone Inn and Suites in Holyoke. Tuesday’s meeting dealt with developing residential lots east of the hotel.

“If you look at this from the RLD’s perspective, it is really exciting,” Sprague said. “I think it’s a really neat development and a chance to provide a nice area for Holyoke.”

The main obstacle preventing plans from materializing is the drainage issue. Sprague presented council members with a plan that includes completely removing the O’Neal pit, which currently handles drainage from a 41-acre section of the southwest portion of Holyoke.

Through a recently-completed drainage study, Sprague stated that it was determined that the pit currently is about half of the needed capacity for drainage of the proposed development area for a 100-year event.

Sprague stated his intention to attend the March 4 council meeting to formally request that the city contact Brent Burklund from T.C. Engineering Inc. out of North Platte, Neb., to determine the cost of constructing a new, full pump station. The new pump station would be 4.5 acres and 10 feet deep, surrounded by residential lots.

The O’Neal pit has been in use since the early 1980s. City Superintendent Mark Brown pointed to the fact that if the sides are steepened at the current pit and debris is dredged out, the pit could handle a 25- to 50-year event.

One of the advantages to the city of pursuing development of the Robin Lake area, according to Sprague, would be a year-to-year perpetual tax base of $175,000.

O’Neal stated that the residential lots are valued at $2 per square foot, and the size of the pit is roughly two acres. To be feasible, Brown noted that the cost of a new pump station would have to fall below the $86,000 value of the two residential lots that would replace the current pit.

Brown also pointed out that if a new pump station were constructed, with the amount of debris in the area, the station would have to be cleaned every time the city received moisture, if not more often.

Currently, the pit is only drained after a storm has passed. The proposed plan would include multiple, larger pumps that could handle a 100-year event.

Brown mentioned that if too much water is forced through the sewer lines that run parallel to Johnson Street, water could begin to come up through storm drains around the intersections of Gordon Street and Worley Avenue, and Hale Street and Worley Avenue.

Sprague relayed to council members that O’Neal would like to see construction begin by as early as the end of spring and into summer. Discussion was scheduled to continue at the March 4 meeting to decide if Burklund will be hired, to determine if moving forward with the proposed plan is the route the city would like to pursue.


Holyoke Enterprise March 6, 2014