Potential bicycle and pedestrian trails, stretching from Broad Avenue to Riverside Park, are the focal point of a study by the Stantec engineering firm about how to use the green space created over the past 10 years by clearing the Blanchard River floodway as it winds through Findlay.
Steve Wilson, project manager for both the Hancock County Engineer’s Office and the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District, Defiance, presented initial drawings of the paths today at an informal meeting of Findlay City Council.
About 160 flood-prone structures, both homes and businesses, have been purchased and removed from the flood plain in Findlay since the disastrous flood of August 2007.
Wilson said he will work until the end of the year to gather ideas for the space along the paths.
“It could be something as simple as plant grass and keep mowing it,” he said.
Stantec has recommended, however, planting the trails with grasses that only need mowing once or twice a year.
“They think we mow too much,” Wilson said.
Stantec also proposes to plant flood-tolerant grass along the area of the river that will be widened in Findlay. Work to improve the hydraulics of the river is expected to begin next spring. “Benches” will be cut into about 2,000 feet of the Blanchard River’s banks between the railroad bridge and Broad Avenue. The benches will increase the river’s capacity.
The Hancock County commissioners contracted with the Stantec engineering firm in April for a recommendation on how to use the flood-prone properties that have been purchased. The contract was for $7,500, paid out of the county’s flood fund.
Wilson said the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires development of a plan for use of green space that is created when federal funds are used to purchase property and raze buildings.
About $301,000 in federal and state money has been used by the City of Findlay to purchase properties in the area of Main Street and the Blanchard River in downtown Findlay, and the area by Main Cross Street and Lye Creek.
In all, a total of about $8.4 million has been spent to purchase and clear properties in Hancock and Putnam counties, using a blend of state, federal and local tax money.
Courier reporter Denise Grant will have more on Friday.