OTTAWA — Residents of Ottawa are eager to see what the next week brings.
Monday through Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding a series of public informational meetings to discuss the five-year long Blanchard River Watershed Study and residents want answers.
“What I’m hearing are residents who are saying, ‘It’s been five years, what are we going to do now?”Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer said.
Ottawa councilwoman and member of the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Coalition, Deb Bauer, said the meeting is part of the Army Corps process that they’ve been going through the past five years.
“At every stage that the Army Corps sets, every time they reach a certain stage, they have to hold public information meetings to let the public know what’s going on,” she said. “This meeting, it will be what they think is the most viable plan hopefully for the river.”
The Blanchard River is notorious for its floods that have ruined businesses and homes in the downtown Ottawa area. Since 2007, there has been an increase of flooding of the river, leaving residents hoping the rains don’t cause damage. The estimated damage from the 2007 flood was around $12 million and resulted in a federal disaster declaration.
“The point of the meeting is to show people what is being recommended by the Army Corps for flood mitigation,” Bauer said. “And from there, we’ll be looking to get feedback from a lot of the residents.”
Meyer said he’s been told that the Road I-9 bridge will be a point of discussion for the Army Corps.
“The I-9 bridge is definitely an item of contention that will be brought up in this meeting as one of the things that will be presented as a fix, if you will,” he said. “There’s been some controversy over the bridge and though no one is at fault, some people believe the bridge is definitely a problem, and the Army Corps just happens to be one of them.”
He’s also hoping they will present the rough cost estimate to fix the river flooding, which has also been a hot topic.
“Some people think that the bridge is useful for development and things like that, but if the Army Corps comes out and says that it is one of the things that causes problems with the flooding, they’re the Army Corps of Engineers, they’re way smarter than I am,” he said, joking.
In April, the federal government had provided $1.4 million for the project. The state at the time had appropriated $6 million and promised another $3 million, while local groups and governments provided a variety of in-kind services and funding.
Bauer said she just hopes the plan is something that will help ease the flooding issues.
“I’m just hoping for a plan that alleviates a lot of our flooding problems,” she said. “We’ve been working very diligently and I know there are a lot of people that think nothing has happened, but we have had some accomplishments.”
She said they’ve bought some of the properties that have flooded repeatedly and since then they’ve been working through the Army Corps process and trying to get a plan in order.
“There are people that thought we’d never get even that done,” she said. “So I feel good that we’re still working on it and I truly think we’ll get something done.”
Four public meetings in total will be held, two in Ottawa and two in Findlay. The first is Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ottawa-Glandorf High School auditorium, 630 Glendale Ave. The second is Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Putnam County Educational Service Center, 124 Putnam Parkway.
The third will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Findlay High School Auditorium, 1200 Broad Ave., and the fourth will be at the Hancock County Agricultural Center, 7868 county Road 140, Findlay, from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Bauer said the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Coalition will meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday and the public is invited to give feedback on the plan and provide suggestions. The notes from previous meetings for her committee can be found on the village of Ottawa’s website, http://j.mp/TNNhgW.