Flood protection project may stop without federal funding; budget due out Wednesday
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -
President Obama is set to release his Fiscal Year 2014 budget Wednesday. Will that budget include money for a flood protection project in Cedar Rapids? It's a question that could result in more anxiety for businesses and homeowners.
The New Bohemia neighborhood of Cedar Rapids has gotten its second wind. The area was devastated in the Floods of 2008 but has moved forward. The NewBo City Market opened last year and several other businesses have begun in the district.
"It took us several years to recover from that but we totally rehabilitated our building and we're excited about being part of what's happening in the neighborhood," said Mel Andringa, Legion Arts Producing Director. "We are concerned about issues about future flooding and we'd like to make sure that we're prepared for it."
Post-flood many businesses made changes. Legion Arts, which operates CSPS Hall, moved utilities from the basement to the roof.
"There's only so much you can do," said Andringa. "If it ever comes in at the height it came in last time, we wouldn't have to start over but it would be a hall to come back to."
That's why so many in Cedar Rapids want to see east side flood protection built. The Army Corps of Engineers approved a project. The next step is getting included in the president's budget, which didn't happen for Fiscal Year 2013. Fiscal Year 2014 is due out Wednesday and a spokesperson for the corps told KWWL that if the project is not included in the budget the corps may have to stop.
"We'd love to be in Obama's bill, but if it doesn't happen, we just keep trying," said Monica Vernon, Cedar Rapids City Council. "We must get flood protection."
City officials say flood protection is a long-term project and if the president does not include money for it, hopefully it will only be a minor delay with funding another year.
"It's very long-term and we know that and every time we can get another piece of it, we're very thankful," said Vernon. "We're hopeful!"
East side businesses are also hopeful. They want to know the investments they've made to re-build neighborhoods will have some form of protection in the future.
The Army Corps of Engineers did not approve a project for the west side of Cedar Rapids. City officials are looking at other ways to fund protection there.