Fairway council candidates on the issues: Addressing Rock Creek flooding

Flash flooding in 2017 washed trailer belonging to Boy Scout Troop 192 at Old Mission United Methodist from the church parking lot and onto a golf cart bridge at Kansas City Country Club. Photo by Jim Poplinger.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of this fall’s local elections primary. Based on the input we received, we developed a three-item questionnaire for candidates running for city council in Fairway.

Today we publish the candidates’ responses to item one:

Stormwater issues have become of increasing concern in northeast Johnson County in recent years, particularly along Rock Creek in Fairway, where flooding has threatened several homes. How should the city be approaching the task of finding a solution to this issue?

Ward 2

Tom Cotter

The city should work with the surrounding cities that are also affected by Rock Creek flooding.This has been an issue that has plagued the homes along Brookridge, the Triangle and others in recent years. There were bad floods before, but ever since changes were made up stream years ago, flooding has been more frequent in our beautiful little city. I know there is no easy fix nor promise I can make that will quickly remedy this issue. This is a multi-city issue and will be a multi-city solution. Mission earlier this year approved $5.2 Million to be used for engineering and construction costs to remedy their Rock Creek issue. I believe this is the perfect opportunity to work with Mission and encourage the county/state and other cities to the west to look into what we all can do to help.

Gail Gregory (incumbent)

Did not respond.

Ward 3

Michele Kiehl

The city should approach the task of finding solutions to the Stormwater issues from Partnerships, Education and Code Enforcement.

Partnership – Partnership with the Johnson County government and its established Stormwater Management Program, Stormwater Management Advisory Council and the neighboring cities to work towards finding the best solution using the information gathered from the watershed maps.

Education – Fairway should utilize the education tools developed by Johnson County and other sources to educate the residents on Best Practices that can be utilized to reduce stormwater from their own home. To help offset those costs, Fairway homeowners can utilize the “Contain the Rain” County program www.containtherainjoco.com supported by the city of Fairway. Under this program, homeowners may be eligible for up to 50% reimbursement of materials and installation cost from the City of Fairway by planting native trees, installing pollinator and native plants, planting rain gardens and adding rain barrels..

Code Enforcement – Ensure all existing codes affecting stormwater are followed and enforced within the city. To assist homeowners with new projects, a check list of the stormwater analysis requirements should be listed on the City of Fairway website and contained in the building permit approval packet. The stormwater analysis should be reviewed by a city engineer during the application process and the engineer who completed the study signs off the work was done correctly.

Joseph Levin (incumbent)

Fairway has already engaged the services of qualified engineers to analyze and quantify Levels of Service based on generally accepted hydrology and hydraulic models under varying assumptions regarding rain events ranging from a ten year to a one hundred year event. The engineers concluded that there are three main opportunities to alleviate the economic effects to properties as a result of Rock Creek flooding (ranging from the least to most costly):

  • 1) Vegetation management along the channel
  • 2) Channel modification
  • 3) Property buyouts

Solutions such as Detention and inline Storage have been suggested, but were not found to be sufficiently effective.

Fairway continues to be active in the Johnson County Stormwater Management Program. The County has rewritten its business model to look at stormwater on a watershed basis as opposed to a city by city approach.

Ward 4

Adam Dolski (incumbent)

We must continue to work with our fellow municipalities, County, State and Federal Governmental Agencies to address the long-term needs surrounding stormwater. A unilateral approach is not possible, feasible or cost-effective…simply due to our location within the floodplain. We must (continue to) work on a long-term plan that alleviates our issues. I support Fairway’s already existing Public Works initiatives to maintain and clear natural obstacles in/around bridges, walkways and publicly accessible areas lessening the burden on surrounding homeowners and land. I also support our continued communication plan specific to homeowners along Rock Creek, on ways to keep dense natural landscape out and away from the creek. Although Ward 4 does not see a direct impact from Rock Creek flooding, it does have an overall impact on the City, its Citizens and our financial resources.

Jenna Brofsky

Fairway should develop a strategic short-term and long-term plan to address flooding and maintain its aging stormwater infrastructure. We should also be looking at and educating residents on the source(s) of stormwater pollution. Any approach must engage city residents and include soliciting feedback. We don’t have to go at this alone. Fairway should be accessing funds and resources from the County’s Stormwater Management Program and any other governmental funding available, be it state or federal. Finally, Fairway should be looking at neighboring municipalities for ideas and perhaps working together as water tends to transcend municipal boundaries.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item two:

The Fairway City Council recently agreed to look into the adoption of a non-discrimination ordinance that would provide legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. Should the city adopt an NDO? Why or why not?