By JOY BROWN
Darwin Dunton, a pastor at First United Brethren Church, admittedly came begging at Findlay City Council’s meeting Tuesday.
Dunton said his church at 616 Rector Ave. has endured repeated flooding, despite its north side location.
His congregation and some who live in the neighborhood think part of the problem is the clogged Dalzell Ditch that runs near the church, he said.
“Our neighborhood, we’re begging you to do something about that. Home values around there are going down. People cannot use their basements anymore,” he said.
Cleaning the ditch has been a discussion topic for more than a decade, and continues to be. Ditches, even those that wind through the city, are the county’s responsibility. But city officials have lately said they’re attempting to get the project done by offering to chip in as much as $300,000 to lessen the assessment burden on residents.
City Council will have the final say-so about how much money, if any, will be provided for the cleaning.
Even if some is provided, the Hancock County commissioners, following a public hearing, will be the final decision-makers.
Dunton said the church is flooding more often than in the past.
During his more than 13 years as pastor there, he said the church’s basement has had water in it 10 times.
Three of those floods were in 2013. The congregation has installed pumps and cisterns, and done all it can to lessen the damage, he said.
“There’s nothing else we can do,” Dunton said. “I really want to encourage you to get that ditch cleaned out.”
“I think it’s time something does happen” with the ditch, said 3rd Ward Councilman Ron Monday, who said he attends the church.
Councilman-At-Large Grant Russel suggested Dunton attend the county’s public hearing on the ditch cleaning, whenever it is scheduled.
“It’s incumbent upon you and upon those affected there to make your voices heard. Keep that speech you just gave to us in your back pocket and at the appropriate time go at it again with the county commissioners,” Russel said.
Also Tuesday, City Council heard from another opponent of a proposed “riparian buffer” along a portion of Lye Creek within the city, near the Blanchard River.
The buffer would be created by planting trees, bushes and grasses. Its main purpose would be to filter water to improve its quality.
Emerson Focht, who lives near that part of the creek at 719 Wedgewood Drive, said he initially favored installing such a buffer along one side of the creek, to see how it would look and perform.
“Since that time I’ve really changed my mind,” Focht said. He said information he gathered about the project indicated controlled grass burns would be necessary, and he’s also worried about a buffer “bringing in a lot of critters.”
“We’ve lost 13 neighbors” because of flooding, said Focht, referring to the 2007 flood. “Their homes are destroyed. They’re gone.”
Focht suggested if grant money for the project hasn’t been received yet, “then use it somewhere else and leave the neighborhood alone.”
Focht isn’t the first to complain about the buffer idea. Another Wedgewood Drive resident, Sondra Bixby, circulated a petition asking neighbors if they favor or dislike the idea. Of 42 homes surveyed, residents of 22 said they were against the buffer, according to information provided at the Jan. 21 council meeting.