The town hall comes about six weeks after parts of the city received over 5 inches of rain in about one hour. The mid-May storm was one of the Bay Area’s heaviest rainfall events since League City voters approved a $73 million bond for numerous drainage projects around the city in May 2019. Hurricane season also started June 1.
At the town hall, officials said post-Hurricane Harvey neighborhood impact studies showed a need for more small projects over time versus one major project that would mitigate flooding issues more quickly. This was particularly true in the case of the Bay Colony community in League City, Director of Engineering Chris Sims said.
“There was no one project identified that provided some immediate benefit,” Sims said of Bay Colony at the town hall. “There was no ‘aha project’ there.”
A multiphase drainage project planned for The Meadows neighborhood will go before City Council at the July 28 meeting for design approval, and work should be “well underway this year” on the project, City Manager John Baumgartner said at the town hall.
A resident asked officials how the public can know that the approved money is only going to be used for bond projects. Angie Steelman, the city’s director of budget and project management, said that the legal purpose for the funds is explicitly stated in any paperwork and added that drainage project funding is completely separate from funding used for roadway improvements.
The order in which projects are implemented is based on what is feasible and how long something will take to fully execute, officials said.
Baumgartner compared it to a medical triage: “It’s never an easy choice,” he said.
The city’s 12-person engineering department cannot complete the design process in-house due to its size, Sims said, which means hiring outside help to complete the projects.
The coronavirus pandemic caused only minor delays with current projects, mostly as workers adjusted to telecommuting, Steelman said. Projects were delayed no more than a month.
“The community is our biggest ally out there,” Sims said during the town hall. “It’s our job to get the projects in place that make their lives better.”