ARLINGTON -- The Arlington City Council on Tuesday will consider buying 15 more flood-prone homes along Rush Creek as well as The Willows at Shady Valley, a 100-unit condominium complex left uninhabitable after Tropical Storm Hermine in September.
The total cost for the purchases will be made public after Tuesday night's council vote. As part of its voluntary buyout program, the council has already approved about $5.6 million to buy and demolish 30 of the 50 west Arlington homes that were heavily damaged during the storm.
"We're starting to prepare the area for demolition," interim Deputy City Manager Bob Byrd said Friday.
City officials have repeatedly said that no amount of dredging will stop Rush Creek from flooding and that the only practical solution is to tear down the homes and apartments and create green space to absorb storm-water runoff.
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"As I have been told by engineers, it will flood again. The city did step up to try to help these people get out of harm's way," said Councilwoman Kathryn Wilemon, who represents west Arlington.
No more neighborhood
As Hermine passed through the area Sept. 8, floodwaters damaged at least 129 homes citywide and 68 units at The Willows at Shady Valley condos in west Arlington. Many of those homes sit along Rush Creek in the Shady Valley area.
While some residents expressed relief at being able to move away from homes that have repeatedly flooded, those who are staying question what kind of neighborhood will be left.
John Dancer, who owns one of the newer, raised homes along Rush Creek, said he would prefer that Arlington clean the silt-filled creek to prevent flooding, something he said city officials have been promising for years.
"I have invested lots of money to build and improve my home. I did these things because the city said they would fix these issues and at least clean up the creek," Dancer wrote to the Star-Telegram. "I am in the center of all the houses that are supposed to be bought out and removed. At one point it was just a few, and now pretty much my whole neighborhood will disappear around me, hurting the value of my $400,000 home."
Some houses left
For now, the city has focused its buyout efforts only on homes that the storm seriously damaged.
"There are going to be houses left there because they aren't in the flood plain," Wilemon said. "We can't take taxpayer money just because of this to buy somebody out who has never flooded. It's not fair to the rest of the city."
Demolition will begin in mid- to late May and could take about two months, Byrd said. Once cleared, the land will be regraded and reseeded and maintained by the city. Crews will work to avoid damaging large trees, and city officials said some of the new green space will be incorporated into the existing park.
Arlington will issue $16 million in bonds, which will be repaid over 20 years with storm-water fees paid by water utility customers, to pay for the flood control project.
Only a handful of properties remain eligible, Byrd said. Owners of affected properties must agree to a cash offer based on an independent appraisal.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639