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Village reviews list, how to deal with stormwater

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

The huge rain event in early August, when Clemmons received about six inches of flooding rain in a three-hour downpour, heightened awareness of stormwater problems in the town, but the issue had already surfaced in discussions among members of the Clemmons Village Council and staff.

The council even called a special “stormwater discussion” meeting before last Monday night’s regular meeting to review the long-established stormwater list and how long it might take to complete those projects — along with the cost involved in various timeframes.

Village Manager Scott Buffkin said that the special meeting, which was led by Wes Kimbrell, the town’s stormwater engineer, involved lots of information on ways to proceed.

“We talked through several different possibilities, several different avenues we might want to consider,” Buffkin said, “and the council was like, ‘Yeah, let’s look at them all in more detail and see what can be done.”

The meeting was called after that historical super-soaker on Aug. 6.

“We had several places around town that were inundated with water,” Buffkin said. “Of course, that was, the best we can figure, close to a 500-year storm event. It’s not to be unexpected that some of the more low-lying areas in town would have received a lot of water runoff. We heard from quite a few of the residents of those locations with concerns about what’s the future going to hold and what can the village can do to help alleviate the situation.”

Buffkin said that in looking at how Clemmons got to where it is now, “what we have done in the past is not insignificant, but there are certainly substantial needs in the community. It’s difficult if you fix one problem often times you’re just pushing it down the creek or down the pipe to the next property, so you have to be thinking about fairness. You start peeling back the layers, and it’s more complicated than on the surface where you fix one problem you may create a larger problem.”

During the special meeting, the preliminary findings as of Sept. 14 for the Stormwater Capital Improvement Program showed Springside North receiving the top ranking on the priority list of 13 projects with a cost estimate of $1.4 million — the highest amount in the group. The total project costs for those on the list totaled $4,642,474.

Tanglebrook is next on the list, followed by Doublegate, Parkdale, Greendale, Springside, Brookland, Boyer, Springfield Farm, Haywood, Springvalley, Tanglebrook 3 and Tanglebrook 2.

The next list of analyzed future projects, which totals $999,756, includes Knob Hill, Lasater, Glen Oaks, Rolling Oak Court and Moravian Heights.

Projects that have already been completed, at a final cost of $673,323, include Roquemore (2010), Knob Hill Drive (2011), Quinn (2013), Garden Spring (2014), Lakefield (2019), Harper Valley (2019) and Glengariff (2020).

Current projects, with a projected price tag of $773,677, include Springpath, Breckingridge, Greensbrook and Mendelssohn.

Buffkin said he thought it was worthy to note that of the newer developments put in since the village has had an active stormwater program “of those neighborhoods that have the control devices, as best we can tell not a single one of those experienced the flooding event. None of those devices failed. So it was pretty much in all the older established neighborhoods that were developed prior to our stormwater program or before the village being an entity.”

The Stormwater Advisory Board met Sept. 10 — the Thursday night before the special stormwater discussion and last regular council meeting — and was addressed during that meeting by Michelle Barson, the council’s liaison to the group.

She mentioned that the council realized when it was putting together the 2020-21 budget that stormwater funding needed to be increased and that solutions would be sought to make this area an even higher priority.

This includes an item added to Monday night’s next council meeting to discuss the Stormwater Advisory Board’s role and future role interacting with the council.

Mayor John Wait said that the village was doing its best to get a handle on the situation.

“It’s going to take a lot more work, and it’s going to take time,” Wait said. “You look at all the agenda items from the special meeting and look at the projects out there and cost with the budget, and you begin to wrap your mind around what a difficult nut to crack this is. You realize that everybody is doing their best, first of all that the problems are fixed, and second of all that tax dollars are used in an effective and efficient manner.

“I think everyone’s goals are the same. The council and staff feel for everyone who has been impacted by these storms. It seems to be happening a little more frequently. We appreciate the staff briefing us and bringing up a lot of solutions that will improve things further going forward.”