The city agreed Tuesday to pay $800,000 more for a project to reduce flooding in northwest Wichita that was, in part, necessitated by private development.
The change pays for two pumping stations and cash to fund any temporary pumping that might be needed after heavy rains.
That brings the city's share of the Cadillac Lake project to $2.85 million. Private developers, who have built a Lowe's store in the area, will contribute no additional money to the project.
Their share sits at $1.41 million.
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The increase set off a discussion at the Wichita City Council meeting about whether private developers, whose parking lots and roofs lead to more flooding problems, should bear the additional cost.
It also opened a conversation about which flooding projects the city should address first, since flooding is a problem in several areas.
Council member Janet Miller asked why the additional costs wouldn't be paid, at least in part, by the developers, New Market V LLC and Eastside Development LLC, whose project increased the need for flood mitigation.
"It concerns me a lot though that if the private development is what is generating much of this runoff, or the change of the runoff, that the public cost is bearing all of that," she said.
Council member Jeff Longwell, who represents the area, said much of the water comes from upstream, where Maize has school buildings and residential developments.
He said the developers on this project and on other forthcoming projects are providing more flood protection than their developments necessitate.
"I think they've already gone up and beyond in helping us put in a significant project," he said.
Years ago, the city had planned for developers in the Cadillac Lake area to pay for the flood mitigation their building necessitates, Public Works Director Chris Carrier said.
But development in Maize and elsewhere led to more runoff into the Cadillac Lake basin.
In 2007, the city agreed to help rebuild federally protected wetlands and increase the amount of water Cadillac Lake can absorb so that development could occur and the city could protect nearby and downstream neighborhoods.
The council's 4-2 vote then drew criticism from nearby landowners who wanted in on the project, environmentalists concerned about the wetlands and nearby homeowners who felt the city withheld details of the plan.
The funding source is a new part of the discourse.
The $800,000 increase to the project comes from a long-term capital budget that the council hasn't yet reviewed.
That means other flood projects that haven't been reviewed by the council or the public could be bumped off the list.
City Manager Robert Layton said he plans to review the proposed capital improvement program budget with council members this week.
Council members Paul Gray and Sue Schlapp advocated for the spending, saying that west Wichita flooding is dangerous and is a citywide issue.
Gray noted that the project is already under way and the city has few options other than to ensure the best flood prevention it can.
"It's a half-built bridge," he said.