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Channel project to be completed

Widening designed to prevent flooding

Oct. 18, 2007

In response to floodwaters that ravished Fox Point in 1997, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has been working with contractors in recent years to widen the Indian Creek channel.

Most of the work pertaining to the extensive project is slated for completion this week, MMSD Senior Project Manager Steven Heinz said at the Village Board meeting Oct. 15.

The project at Dean and Regent roads has included $2 million in construction costs and $650,000 for the design of the revamped channel.

Because Fox Point is topographically flat, Heinz said the channel had to be widened, rather than deepened. It will range in width from 4 to 7 feet, but remain 6 inches deep.

One of the larger-scale aspects of the project entailed removing six homes directly in the floodplain. The homes were either moved or razed.

"The objective has been to find a place to store the water," Heinz said. "We couldn't just dig a deeper channel with a steeper grade. That really wasn't possible."

Although there has been some debate about the exact number, MMSD and Fox Point officials came to a consensus that 25 homes within the village were directly affected by the 1997 storm. The widening was designed to prevent those homes from being affected from future flooding. The six homes removed were not immune from the widening, Heinz said.

Trustee Sandy Garmer said she still remembers that fateful day and is pleased to witness the final chapter of the work.

"I was astounded; I thought the Mississippi had overflowed into Fox Point," Garmer said of the flooding 10 years ago. "It's been very painful waiting for this to happen."

While completion of the major work is imminent, MMSD crews will be working in coming years to examine the landscaping. Turf grass and trees have been planted in most areas, while beds of rocks have been placed in portions of the channel that might be frequented by residents when floodwaters are low.

"In terms of vegetation, there will be an assortment of naturalized plantings," Heinz said. "They are meant to be natural, low-maintenance types of grasses."

As part of its intergovernmental agreement with the village, MMSD has agreed to maintain the plantings until they are established in the area. Heinz said MMSD will care for the plantings for at least five years.

"With all of our contracts, there's always a warranty period," he said.

Village President Mike West said he felt it was prudent to have MMSD continue its oversight of the area in the near future.

"We wanted to make sure we didn't take those plantings over until (they are established)," he said. "The village and MMSD have worked together all along, and we'll continue to do that."

The completion of the Dean and Regent channel is the second tier of a broader project. MMSD several years ago constructed a wet retention pond in Fox Point on North Port Washington Road, in between Congregation Sinai and Maple Dale School. The pond has acted as another source of absorbing water when heavy rain falls.

Dave Fidlin can be reached at dfidlin@cninow.com or (262) 446-6603.

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