City to install valve to relieve flooding on Palmer Avenue

City to install valve to relieve flooding on Palmer Avenue
Map of the location where the City plans to install a TideFlex valve on Fair Street to alleviate flooding behind several Palmer Avenue homes.

Palmer Avenue residents who have been plagued with sunny day flooding in their backyards received some good news in February.

According to a memo from Jacksonville Public Works Operations Director William Joyce obtained by the Resident, a TideFlex valve to prevent backflow from a creek running behind the Ortega Park mall should be installed sometime between August and October 2021.

“Engineering will be working with our Design/Builder (JBC) to have a Tide Flex valve installed on Fair Street. Palmer Avenue is a street that residents live on that intersects with Fair. The project should break ground in approximately 6-8 months,” Joyce wrote in the memo that was dated Feb. 10.

The memo was written in response to a query from District 14 Councilwoman Randy DeFoor who was inquiring about the timeline for the project.

Residents living in homes lining the west side of Palmer Avenue encounter severe sunny day flooding from a drainage pipe or trench that runs through a city easement on the rear of their properties. Recorded legal documents from the 1960s show that nine homes along Palmer Avenue rendered a portion of their property to the City for a drainage easement, and that it is the City’s responsibility to maintain it. However, in a memo dated in 1984, Jacksonville Director of Public Works Albert Kinard “abandoned” the easement, relinquishing the City’s responsibility and stating that because no City of Jacksonville stormwater flowed through the rear of the properties, the City was abandoning all future maintenance responsibility. This left the responsibility to the residents to clean out a drainage pipe buried behind some of their homes that connects to a drainage pipe that runs along Fair Street. Meanwhile, three of the homeowners have an open trench along their rear property line to provide drainage, which they were forced to maintain.

However, in a December 2020 meeting called by DeFoor, Jacksonville Public Works Director John Pappas observed the flooding situation in the backyard of Craig and Flo McColskey. He promised to assist Palmer Avenue residents in engineering an answer that would help dry up the severe sunny-day floodwater, which is often filled with oil and sediment, that they have been suffering from in their backyards.

To remedy the situation, the City plans to install a “TideFlex” valve to prevent backflow into the neighborhood from Fair Street. TideFlex systems are employed in low areas that are impacted by water intrusion from high tides, according to Pappas. As part of the deal, some of the residents promised to fill in the trench behind their homes and survey the area to create necessary drainage swales that will not block the flow from neighboring properties. This particularly applies to the McColskey’s, who own property where the drainage pipe empties out into the trench.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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