City of Pelham paves way for new retention pond

The Pelham City Council approved a resolution during a special-called meeting March 25 that moves the city one step closer to building a retention pond in the Saddle Run area.

The resolution authorizes Mayor Don Murphy to enter into an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the purchase of real estate located at 4058 Saddle Run Circle for flood mitigation purposes.

The property, which has been under foreclosure and is currently the property of Birmingham HUD, is one of two parcels of land the city is seeking to take over to build a flood retention pond.

The resolution comes after the city experienced more than 8 inches of rain March 10.

Saddle Run and Stratford Place are two areas that have flooded numerous times over the years, and Murphy said the area could have been worse March 10 had it not been for another pond previously built by Ricky Hayes.

“If that had not been there, we would have had much more flooding problems,” Murphy said.

Although the council voted 4-0, with member Bill Meadows absent, for the resolution, no city funds are scheduled to be spent on the project.

The council previously approved a resolution for a 75/25 grant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the current resolution with HUD will allow the possibility of FEMA paying for the purchase.

However, City Clerk Tom Seale said HUD will entertain offers on the property Friday, March 26 through Tuesday, March 30 in an effort to sell it to an individual.

Murphy said although he would like to see the city get the property for the retention pond, it is HUD’s intentions to sell it off to an individual before the city or FEMA can purchase it.

“(HUD) made it clear to me when they said, ‘Mr. Mayor, we’re in the business of putting people in houses, not tearing houses down,’” Murphy said.

Although the council made no financial obligations by approving the resolution, member Karyl Rice expressed concern about the cost of purchasing the property if FEMA does not take on the responsibility.

“Our revenues are drastically down,” Rice said. “I don’t want us to be committed to spend a lot of city money when our revenues are not where they need to be.

“If the city is going to have to spend a lot of money to purchase these properties, I don’t think we can do it,” she added.

Several members in the audience expressed concerns about the sight of a retention pond in a neighborhood and the effect it will have on property values.

Council member Teresa Nichols said she feels a retention pond in the neighborhood would not a negative effect, but rather a positive one.

“I anticipate it will increase property values,” Nichols said. “This will end 30-plus years of flooding problems. This is the best that can be done with that situation.”