Commissioners move on Holley by the Sea flood control

The Board of County Commissioners directed staff Aug. 10 to prepare requests for proposals (RFPs) for flood mitigation efforts related to the Holley by the Sea homeowners’ association.

Along with the realignment of drainage on select roadways, county staff will issue RFPs for the clearing of drainage easements within the subdivision. The clearing project was recommended by engineering consulting firm Baskerville Donovan Inc. (BDI) in a study presented to the commissioners Aug. 7. Baskerville Donovan estimated such easement maintenance would cost $619,000, which will be paid from Road and Bridge Department reserves.

The current study was paid for by the remainder of a contract with BDI. The previous study, carrying a price tag of around $400,000 and presented to the county in 2014, had recommended an estimated $87 million in projects to curb flooding in Holley by the Sea.

At the Aug. 7 presentation, Ryan Weed of BDI told commissioners the $619,000 drainage improvement effort would not be a cure-all.

“This does not take the place of those infrastructure projects that were put forth in the original report. Those things will still need to be done for the sake of those large-storm events,” Weed said.

The commissioners will also seek to outsource the mowing of sidewalk areas throughout the county. This would free up county crews to work on drainage issues “with a particular emphasis on the south end,” said county engineer Roger Blaylock.

At the wrap up to his third annual countywide listening tour the same day, Williamson told a group of constituents at the Santa Rosa Visitors’ Center in Navarre: “I’m trying to strike that balance between bringing immediate relief to Holley by the Sea and areas of the south county that I represent as well as recognizing the obvious deficiencies that we have in other areas of the county.”

Holley by the Sea board president Bob Hutchison said in a statement to this newspaper: “While I am pleased that we are moving forward, I’m concerned about the return-on-investment.”

Hutchison listed several concerns regarding the efficacy of the projects. He said BDI had stated that even the proposed $87 million effort wouldn’t halt all flooding. In addition, he said if easements are only partially cleared, this effort may not be enough to move all the stormwater to its final location.

Hutchison said “a broad array of options” should be considered “when approaching the recommendations of BDI, to maximize every dollar allocated,” adding, “We need to be judicious with every dollar spent. We need to think and look outside the box for solutions; we shouldn’t rush to failure.”

Williamson said the idea was to prioritize resources. “If we currently have some of our limited resources going toward things like mowing, and we can free up those resources to spend more time working on drainage in Holley by the Sea and in areas around the county, that hopefully is aligned with what’s in the best interest of the county,” he said.

Williamson said it was his intent that the proposals would be back before the board by the end of the calendar year.

“I feel like we’ve had clear indication of the importance of shifting or reallocating resources toward infrastructure – things like stormwater drainage – for quite some time,” Williamson said.

As seen in the Aug. 17 issue of Navarre Press. Click here to subscribe for as little as $38 per year.

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