City continues to clear properties damaged in 2008 flood

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
— The Janesville City Council on Monday approved buying another flood-damaged home in the Mole & Sadler's subdivision, bringing to a dozen the number of houses acquired by the city for demolition.

The property at 1107 Hamilton Ave. will be converted to open parkland.

The house was damaged in the 2008 flood, which generated the highest Rock River floodwaters on record.

After the flood, the city submitted a grant application to the Federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to buy 11 properties—one at 809 S. Jackson St. and 10 in the Mole & Sadler's subdivision along the Rock River and near Riverside Park. Some of the subdivision is in a floodplain and routinely floods.

Funding to buy and demolish eight of the properties was approved by FEMA.

Three of the properties did not qualify because of Wisconsin Emergency Management concerns about groundwater contamination. Those properties have since been purchased by the city with Community Development Block Grant money through the Emergency Assistance Program. The structures were demolished.

In September, the city was awarded an additional $300,000 in community block grant money to buy residential properties in the floodplain that did not qualify for any previous grant programs because they were not substantially damaged.

The property at 1107 Hamilton Ave. is one such property.

At Monday's council meeting, Councilman Bill Truman asked if the garage could remain on the property for storage.

Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz said he did not know if the grant would allow such an action, but said staff would look into the idea.

During the flood, the property was damaged and the occupants vacated because of a lack of sewer, water and access to the property.

City offers to purchase are based on a pre-flood appraisal minus any federal emergency assistance or insurance payments made to the owners. Using this formula, the city's offer to purchase was $114,000. The city's website lists the property's assessment at $72,700.

The structure is vacant.

Two additional property owners also are considering buy-out offers from the city.

The grant requires that acquired properties be demolished and kept as open green space.

Prairie grass is planted on the sites to reduce maintenance.

Some residents in the area earlier this year were upset when the city cut down numerous trees to grow the prairie grass. Tom Presny, parks director, said at the time that city staff apparently did not make it clear that workers must regularly burn off a prairie.

He said the city in the spring plans to plant oak trees that should tolerate both flood and fire.

Last updated: 9:50 am Monday, December 17, 2012

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