By DENISE GRANT
Hancock County Commissioner Tim Bechtol delivered a “position statement” to the commissioners’ office Thursday from a community group that plans to lobby for a more active role in flood-control planning for Findlay.
Bechtol, who has been serving as the commissioners’ contact with the group, said he is willing to answer questions about the statement and discuss it publicly.
Bechtol made the announcement Thursday during the commissioners’ regular meeting.
On Wednesday, Bechtol, along with Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik and members of Hancock United for a Better Blanchard, or HUBB, and Blanchard River Watershed Solutions, released a “community flood mitigation position statement.”
Blanchard River Watershed Solutions is a group that includes business, government and professionals. Hancock United for a Better Blanchard is a group that includes mainly rural residents, along with Putnam County landowners.
The joint group said it is attempting to represent the entire community in flood-control planning.
Only private meetings have been held with government officials, and there has been no public discussion of the group’s effort by the commissioners, Findlay City Council or the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District, Defiance.
Clark Lynn Army, the conservancy district’s leader, said Thursday that he just received the statement, too, and has delivered copies to conservancy board members for their review.
Both Bechtol and Commissioner Brian Robertson said the new unified front is a good sign.
In its statement, the group said community acceptance of flood-control plans will require “all constituents to be fairly represented in the development of the mitigation plans.”
The group emphasized the need for both “unity and transparency” across all sectors involved.
Robertson said now that the group has made a commitment to transparency, it should be held to it.
The group said it favors “incremental projects” to decrease the impact of flooding, such as road modifications, flood-proofing, improved drainage, continued clearing of the floodway, cleaning the river and increasing its capacity.
The collaborative plans to lobby the conservancy district to be an “official” participant at its meetings, and to join the board’s discussion of design criteria and peer review.
The group also wants to have input on any additional work recommended by the conservancy district.
It also plans to ask the conservancy district to appoint a full-time project manager for Hancock County’s flood mitigation effort by the end of the year.