By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The city of Oxford took another step Tuesday toward a new drainage project in Avent Park when the Board of Aldermen accepted $129,662 from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
The heart of the project is a berm that will turn a former baseball field in the northeast Oxford park into a water impoundment to slow the flow of heavy rains into a nearby residential area. A larger drainage pipe will be buried through the site, but flow will be detained by a concrete drain that allows the site to hold several feet of runoff after storms. Within a few hours after downpours, the space will be dry land again.
“We’ve worked on this for close to 10 years,” said Mayor Pat Patterson. “We’re as concerned with helping the neighbors as anybody … and with benefits we would get all the way downstream.”
The project has raised ire among some neighbors who fear it will cause problems upstream and others who say it is an eyesore. Some homeowners have said the creek never flooded until new development upstream created more runoff.
City Engineer Bart Robinson said the new retention system would reduce floodwaters “drastically” in the immediate downstream neighborhood, though south Oxford residents, whose floodwaters come from several directions, would notice little difference.
MEMA opted to use the larger buried pipe rather than an open channel, restoring most of the park’s greenspace after construction but increasing the price from about $110,000 to more than $150,000. The city’s share will remain $22,508.
“They’re actually giving us more money to do the project less intrusively, and we’re paying a smaller share of the project,” said Jimmy Allgood, Oxford’s emergency management coordinator.
Robinson said construction plans could be ready for approval in September.