Fairway searching for stormwater management solution as fresh flash flooding hits city

Mayor Jerry Wiley sounded the alarm Monday about the threat to Fairway homes from flooding.
Mayor Jerry Wiley sounded the alarm Monday about the threat to Fairway homes from flooding.

At a workshop on stormwater management Monday, Fairway’s governing body didn’t have to look far back to find evidence that the city has serious problem that needs to get addressed sooner than later.

The soaking rains last week prompted fresh bouts of flash flooding along State Park Road, where Mayor Jerry Wiley says 31 homes are in danger of being taken out in the event of a 100 year flood. To get a sense of how quickly the waters can rise in the area, take a look at this video submitted last week by a shawneemissionpost.com reader:

While the danger of the situation appears obvious to both the impacted homeowners and the governing body, a solution has proved hard to come by. Wiley on Monday indicated that the flash flooding issues in Fairway have been exacerbated by the completion of the Mission stormwater project completed around the time of the Mission Gateway site preparation, where new stormwater containment boxes were installed underground. Those boxes, he said, could be altered to temper the flow of water from the boxes into Fairway’s creek.

“There’s got to be a structural engineering fix to that,” Wiley said. “That’s a project that’s going to take place in Mission. And we’re going to have to hitch our wagon to that, and do it cooperatively and collaboratively in order to minimize the prospect of losing 31 homes in Fairway. That’s the consequence.”

But how to instigate that project at the county level and get neighboring cities to buy in as well isn’t abundantly clear. The city in 2012 hired an engineering firm and water flow specialist to produce a report on the problem and develop possible solutions. But the initial report used rainfall and water flow data from 2005 — information that is now out of date and doesn’t adequately capture the current issues. A dispute between the city council and the engineers over whether their contractual duties have been fulfilled has led to an impasse, where the city doesn’t have the report it needs to bring to the county as evidence that something needs to be done.

The council on Monday directed the water flow expert to develop a proposal for how much it would cost to complete the initial part of the report with current data.

Wiley said the city needed to get moving on the issue as soon as possible.

“We’re the bathtub,” Wiley said. “We accept upstream water from Roeland Park into Mission. That puts us right in the middle of the watershed. And this is the place where it’s going to happen.”