GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — (GRAND HAVEN TRIBUNE) - The Grand Haven Department of Public Works continues faces a daunting task of dealing with damage from high water.

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, DPW Director Derek Gajdos asked members for direction in moving forward on four impacted areas: the intersections of Harbor Island Drive and US-31; Coho Drive and Third Street; Fifth Street and Adams Avenue; and the Harbor Island Boat Launch.

“In 2019, we approached record levels. We didn’t quite get there – we were about two-tenths of an inch below record levels this summer,” Gajdos said. “The city has spent over $100,000 to date mitigating those flood waters.”

Gajdos recommended completing two of the four projects this summer, totaling $310,00, with money coming from different funds such as street resurfacing. The total cost to permanently fix the four areas would be $3.3 million.

“We don’t really have that just laying around,” he said. “I wish we did. I wish we could just go in and fix these, but we can’t. So, we have to make some decisions.”

harbor island boat launch
DPW crews used sandbags to keep areas from flooding along Harbor Island Drive this past summer. The same method may be used this year to potentially help with low areas, such as the intersection of Fifth Street and Adams Avenue.
Courtesy of the Tribune

The two projects slated for this summer are remediating the intersections of Harbor Island Drive and US-31 and Coho Drive and Third Street.

At Harbor Island Drive and US-31, Gadjos said the road needs to be raised approximately three feet and a culvert needs to be added between Rix Robinson Park and the Grand River at a cost of $228,000.

Similarly, at Coho Drive and Third Street, the intersection needs to be raised about a foot and a half and improvements need to be made to the storm sewer there. The price tag for work at this intersection is $82,000.

“The other two, I don’t have any other recommendation than to postpone,” the DPW director said. “We can mitigate that with some labor and equipment, maybe some sandbags down at Fifth Street and Adams Avenue, or live with the water levels like we did this past summer at the boat launch.

Gadjos said revenue from permits at the boat launch this past summer were about 25 percent of what the city normally takes.

“With the higher water levels, I would imagine there would be less use and less revenue,” he said.

In previous years, the number of seasonal and day boat launch passes have reached 54,661 during the 2017-18 fiscal year, and 44,347 during the 2018-19 year. So far, for the 2019-20 fiscal year, there were 2,531 total day and seasonal launch passes, according to data from Community Affairs Manager Char Seise.

“When the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers was here in August, and they predicted we would start the year 11 inches higher than we started last year and are likely to go up from there,” said Mayor Bob Monetza. “If we are thinking a foot higher than last year, I think the boat launch will be unusable. It was barely usable last year and I wasn’t convinced of the safety, because you can’t see where the edges were. I would think we would be pretty cautious about keeping the boat launch open on Harbor Island if we don’t do anything there.”

Remediation at the boat launch would include raising the area “significantly,” Gajdos said, noting flooding of more than six inches at the center of the boat launch and over 18 inches on the edges this past summer.

“Our engineers think we can raise that 3 feet at a cost just shy of $1.3 million,” he said. “It’s a large investment into our boat launch that doesn’t see nearly that amount in revenue annually.”

Also on the radar is the area around Fifth Street and Adams Avenue. Gajdos said crews plugged the storm sewer outlet and pumped water back into the river with a force main, but mitigating the intersection could cost another $1,732,000.

Gajdos noted an alternative solution would be to turn the area into a rain garden development; however, this would include purchasing three or four properties to create the garden in low areas near the intersection. This plan would also cost more than $1 million.

“It’s a pretty big pill to swallow when it comes up to $3.3 million to do the whole thing,” said Councilmember Mike Fritz. “We at least need to get something started.”

Councilmembers were in favor of moving forward with the Harbor Island Drive and US-31 and Coho Drive and Third Street projects.

This story originally appeared in the Grand Haven Tribune. You can find more content similar to this on the Tribune's website.

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