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FARMINGTON -- The city is on its third major engineering design for a drainage improvement project at Garland McKee Road and Rosebay Lane to prevent flooding during excessive rain.

The latest design calls for purchasing the house at 11155 Rosebay Lane and using the land as part of the project.

According to a memo from city engineer Chris Brackett with Olsson Inc., the house would be demolished so the creek can be routed across the lot to an alignment closer to the natural flow of the water before to the construction of MeadowSweet subdivision off Garland McKee Road.

The City Council on July 13 authorized a contract to buy the house for $275,000, plus closing costs. The contract will be contingent on the estimated cost of the drainage improvement project.

Mayor Ernie Penn said he approached homeowners Robert and Sara McCoy to see if they would be interested in selling and was surprised when they said yes. He asked them for a price and told them the purchase would have to be approved by the City Council.

City Council member Linda Bell asked about the current market value of the house.

Penn said the house has about 1,800 square feet. He said comparable sales show houses being sold for about $225,000.

He pointed out the McCoys aren't having to move but are willing to sell their house to the city.

"They came up with the price," Penn said. "Yes, we would be paying them a premium price."

Washington County property records show the house was built in 2008 and the McCoys purchased the house in November 2008, for $164,000.

Brackett said this will be the third major redesign of the project but the firm has probably worked on five redesigns overall. The new design is in concept stage only. Actual design work hasn't started yet, Brackett said.

Penn said the engineering redesigns for the project have cost the city about $85,000 so far. This doesn't include what it will cost for the latest redesign. The money has come from the city's street improvement bond fund, Penn said.

For normal drainage, water comes down the mountain off Garland McKee, goes through undersized culverts under the road, takes a sharp left turn into a drainage ditch along the street and then flows into a creek running behind the houses on Rosebay. This creek eventually makes it to the Illinois River.

During major storms, water flows over Garland McKee, going down Rosebay Lane and flooding houses on the street.

Under the new plan, water would continue to go under Garland McKee but it wouldn't have to take the sharp left-hand turn to the creek. The water would be diverted to go across the lot with the house the city plans to purchase and demolish.

For major rain, water overtopping Garland McKee would fall into the new channel, instead of flooding Rosebay Lane.

The concept also calls for construction of a concrete wall along the east side of Garland McKee at the culverts to force any water to overtop to the south of the intersection with Rosebay.

Penn and City Attorney Steve Tennant gave a history on how the city got to this point. They've also noted on many occasions MeadowSweet subdivision was outside the city when it was built. The city annexed the area in 2008.

Penn said city officials spent nine months talking with Neil Barnes and Les Barnes for an acre easement of pasture land behind the houses on Rosebay Lane. The Barnes were representing their mother who owns the property. The city planned to improve and widen the water channel behind the houses to help with flooding.

Penn said they met to sign papers and the Barnes rescinded their approval.

"We had to start all over," Penn said.

Tennant, whose comments were a little more heated about the negotiation, said the city offered $40,000 for the one-acre easement.

"We had a meeting in my office. We had a set of plans and we agreed to what they wanted," Tennant said. "They absolutely just said 'no.' I didn't use any foul language but I was damned disappointed."

Tennant added, "It's been very, very, very frustrating."

The second major redesign of the project would have realigned Garland McKee Road but Washington Water Authority had several requirements for the design because of its water pipes.

The estimated cost for the design was $850,000, and Penn balked at the costs.

"We do not have $850,000 to spend on that particular drainage project," Penn said.

Penn said he went back to Brackett and asked him to come up with another plan that would be "cost efficient, financially feasible and easily attained."

Penn said he hopes this latest plan will be a "pretty easy fix."

In the same July 13 meeting, council members also approved waiving competitive bidding to buy evidence lockers, personnel lockers, furniture and furnishings, for $90,000, for an addition to the Police Department.

The expenditures aren't in the police budget and will come from reserve.

Penn pointed out the council's agenda packet included a summary of the city's reserve. The summary shows Farmington has almost $5 million in reserve. It has $1.97 million in operating accounts. Penn said he wanted council members to know money was available to purchase the items from reserve.

The city is expanding the Police Department to add six rooms and offices. The lockers will come from Fasco Inc., a company that only manufactures steel equipment for law enforcement agencies. The furniture and furnishings will come from Admiral Express in Springdale through two contracts, one with Omnia Partners and the other with National Cooperative Purchasing Alliance.

Police Chief Brian Hubbard, in a memo about the purchases, said Admiral Express was the "logical choice and the least expensive."

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