Council approves flood grant match

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council voted unanimously during its Oct. 15 meeting to provide matching funds for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant aimed at combating flooding off Alabama 261.

During the meeting, the council agreed to pay up to $640,598 to match a $1.03 million FEMA grant awarded to the city on Oct. 11. Pelham originally applied in 2009 for a nearly $1.7 million grant to make several upgrades to the flood-prone area around the Saddle Run and Stratford Place subdivisions off Alabama 261.

“That ($1.03 million) was all FEMA could give us right now,” said Fenley Frazer, with the Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood engineering firm, which is working to manage the project. “There is a chance that other cities could not use their allotment (of grant funds), and then we can request that money.”

Frazer said Pelham is required to match 25 percent of the grant total. Because the grant currently totals $1.03 million, the city would only be required to match about $344,000, Frazer said.

Pelham has already spent $39,200 on the project, which will count toward the city’s matching funds.

The project, which will enlarge two existing detention ponds and will construct two new detention ponds in the Alabama 261 basin near the Alabama Power Company substation, is estimated to cost about $1.67 million.

Frazer said the project total could be reduced on construction costs and by possibly using in-kind labor. He said the City Council still must approve construction bids before the project moves forward.

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said the project could get started in as early as 90 days, and must be completed by September 2015.

Oct. 15 marked the last full council meeting for outgoing Council President Teresa Riddle and council members Bill Meadows and Steve Powell. Riddle said she was happy to have a chance to vote on the project before leaving office.

“This is a project we have been working on since June ’09,” Riddle said. “I think it’s fortuitous that this comes before us before we leave.”

City officials previously said the city’s grant application got “put on the fast track” after Pelham documented a recent flood off Alabama 261 and sent the information along to FEMA.

Several Saddle Run and Stratford Place residents have attended City Council meetings over the past few months to voice concerns about drainage problems in the area.