SIOUX CITY | Help could be on the way for several Morningside residents looking to tame a widening channel that's eroding their backyards.
More than a dozen residents who live along South St. Marys Street, Mulberry Lane and Sergeant Road have in recent years watched soil behind their homes slide into a deep ravine used as a drainage way for area storm water. During heavy rains, as soil slides down the cliff, their backyards have been shrinking as a result due to the erosion.
Following more than a year of research on ways to alleviate the cause, the Sioux City Council on Monday voted 5-0 to adopt construction documents for a project to clean out and stabilize the ravine. If bidding and construction proceeds according to schedule, the approximately $100,000 project could be complete by April 1.
"The neighborhood's pleased that something is getting done," area homeowner Dennis Bullock told the Journal.
Last spring, the city had consulted Howard R. Green Co., a Midwest-based firm, to complete a study of the drainage ravine and see what could be done. Study results presented to the council showing the price tag to fix the problems could run as high as $2 million to $3.5 million.
The study showed that trees and other debris had fallen to the bottom of the bank, eliminating the natural water channel and creating a swirling water effect. Groundwater springs had also surfaced midway up the bank, hurting the upper bank's stability. Roof drainage and improper attempts by some residents to stabilize the bank added to the problem.
Special assistant to the city manager Rick Mach said the city saw the proposal approved Monday as a cost-effective solution.
“Ultimately the city is helping out on a private channel, but we recognize there is city stormwater being dumped in there,” he said. “We thought this would work out as the best solution – the most cost-effective.”
Bullock said the city has received permission by the neighbors to access the ravine and to stage on a lot he owns next to his house.
"We all as a neighborhood gave them access to our properties in exchange for them to complete the work," he said.
Bullock credited the work of Mach, who he said kept the project moving. He said he plans to wait and see how the changes affect the drainage before doing his own improvements toward the top.
Bullock said some residents "wish more would get done," such as a full box culvert, but he said he's happy to see the city moving forward.
In other action Monday, the council voted 5-0 to approve agreements with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund the purchase of $720 worth of native grasses and flowers at a three-acre portion of Prairie Park, a new Sioux City park scheduled to have an official opening next spring.
The portion will serve to attract butterflies and pollinators to that section of the new 58-acre park, located just south of the city's wastewater treatment plant.
In other action Monday, the council voted 5-0 to authorize a $33,301 settlement of a property damage claim related to the formation of a sinkhole at 3015 Pierce St.
City documents say on Aug. 26, heavy rainfall caused large amounts of runoff in front of the residence, causing a large sinkhole to develop.
This residence, owned by Marlus Mammen, sits directly north of the property purchased by the city in August as part of a settlement with Joyce Downing, who had sued the city in 2014 after multiple sinkholes formed in her yard. That settlement cost the city $195,000.
The city has been repairing a large sinkhole at the intersection of 30th and Pierce streets caused by a failed storm sewer.
Cook Pool demolition
The City Council also voted 5-0 to approve a nearly $35,000 contract with Sioux City-based Herbert Construction for demolition, removal and site work at the former Cook Pool, 501 Market St.