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Peninsula Neighborhood residents want a way out

BY ABIGAIL MEIER | APRIL 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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Some Iowa City residents want a way out.

When the floodwaters of 2008 severed the access to homes of the Peninsula Neighborhood, many families were given 30 minutes to evacuate their residences.  

The waters flowed over Foster Road located just off of Dubuque Street, which restricted access for families. With only one street granting access to the neighborhoods, all families in the area along Foster Road west of Idyllwild Drive were forced to evacuate.  

Tony Weiler, a resident of the neighborhood and the president of the Peninsula Homeowner Association, said then the Peninsula Neighborhood only held 100 residents, but today is surrounded with close to 1,000 residents.

“We now have a lot more people up here and some who are handicapped,” Weiler said. “We want to make sure emergency equipment can have safe access to our homes if there was flooding in the future.”  

Even though the homes themselves are on high ground and are not at risk of flooding, Weiler said many residents are concerned that if an evacuation occurs again, there is no kind of entrance for authorities to to protect the homes from vandalism or maintenance.

Recently Jeff Davidson, director of the city’s planning and community development department, said officials have created two major construction project proposals to tackle the issue.  

The first suggestion is to elevate a portion of Foster Road that is currently prone to flooding. City officials estimated this project would cost $3.2 million.

The second option would create a road by extending Laura Drive into the Forest View Mobile Home Park to connect with a road in the Mackinaw subdivision.

Davidson said the city is most in favor of this option but there is debate between community members and city officials concerning if a temporary road should be built within the next year or if it would be better to wait until funds are available for a permanent road.

A temporary asphalt surface road it would only cost $843,000. A gravel road would be even less — $503,000.

“We know there is another flood coming, and it’s not the matter of if but the matter of when,” Davidson said.  “We would like to work with a private developer to make a more permanent street.”
City Councilor Jim Throgmorton said the council is working to create a permanent plan, but it might take some time before construction and budgets are approved.

“Roads are expensive to build,” he said. “We don’t want to spend money on building a temporary road when a new and complete road could be built a few years later.”  

He said city officials would most likely revisit the topic in January during the yearly capital improvements program — which identifies the projects the city will spend its money on for the year.

Amy Pretorius, assistant project manager of Peninsula Development Co., said many residents feel nervous that a future flood may happen in the next few years.   

“It’s been an uphill battle these last five years since [2008] because it is something that everyone worries about when considering moving to this area,” she said.  “Some people are here for a short time, and people want to protect their home values.”  

She said many of the residents in the area rent homes and move out of the neighborhood after a few years.  She said she is grateful the city has given them the land but said the residents want a safe passage back and forth to their properties.  

“The residents are a little apprehensive,” Pretorius said.  “I think the city is listening, and it is up to us to keep this issue at the forefront to keep it on a tighter timeline.”


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