They say the two certainties in life are death and taxes. I would add a third certainty to that list: delay caused by government inefficiency.
Few projects in recent memory in Jersey Village have been the subject of so much delay as our golf course berm project. Originally, it was estimated that the berm would be under construction right now, during the summer of 2018. In fact, we originally hoped it would be close to completion by now. As many of you know, however, we have experienced delays due to unreasonable cost estimates from a prior engineering firm bidding on the project, as well as the need to conduct a land survey of the golf course to ensure we had an accurate measure of the volume of water to be held by the berm (the flood study used LIDAR data instead of traditional survey).
The berm design is nearly complete and city council anticipated voting on bids from contractors for the construction of the berm within the next month or so.
Grant Funding at Stake
In the meantime, our city manager has been hard at work to complete a grant application through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). Recently, FEMA informed the city that due to the intertwined nature of the golf course berm project and the Wall Street drainage project, they would need designs completed for both projects before they could accept a grant application that would ask to consider the cost effectiveness of the projects as a combined system. While we vehemently disagree with FEMA’s approach to this program in light of the possible benefits of having the berm in place first, they have insisted that we either submit them as one application with both designs or break them up into two applications with the cost effectiveness of each design being considered entirely separately.
If we were to submit the applications separately and proceed with construction of the berm this year, we have a decent chance of getting funding for 75% of the cost of the berm (under $600,000 in grant money), but we would almost certainly not qualify for a grant for the Wall Street drainage program because of the far lower cost effectiveness measure when considered without the berm project. At a projected price tag of $5.5 million, we would stand to lose approximately $4.2 million in grant money for that project. If we submit both projects together, we have a very good chance of obtaining that grant based on our calculation of the cost effectiveness and FEMA guidelines for the program.
Possible Delay in the Berm
If we wait for both to be designed, this likely means construction of the berm would not begin until April.
While I know it would be a very unpopular decision for those who live on or near Wall and Capri, I have a hard time finding any good justification for foregoing a very good chance of receiving millions of dollars in federal grant money just to move a project up by 4-6 months. This may be of very little comfort to those in the area it is meant to serve, I must make these sorts of decisions in light of what is in the best interest to the community as a whole.
I have always said that I would work to get flood mitigation infrastructure in place as quickly as possible, but it must be done with the interests of taxpayers in mind, as well as the safety of all homes, particularly those surrounding the golf course. Balancing those competing interests can be, at times, very difficult. But with the amount of grant money at stake, I feel it would be extremely wasteful to push ahead while foregoing the possible grant money.
I Want Your Input
That said, I want to hear from you. While I believe awaiting the design of the Wall St. drainage project in order to preserve our very good chances at getting millions in grant money is best for the community, it is important for me to hear from you. Do you support this decision? Do you think we should move ahead and not wait to see if we will qualify for the FEMA grant? This is a decision we need to finalize as a city soon, so let me know your thoughts. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach other members of the city council by clicking here.