Tallahassee's storm water management director, John Buss, says Frenchtown is "an old neighborhood; it was built piece by piece with nobody planning a master draining system."
And that lack of a draining system in the Frenchtown watershed results in more than just chronic flooding and property damage.
Buss reminds that a college student drowned in 2001 after his car was swept into a drainage ditch.
John Buss says, “It's a situation that needs to be addressed."
After a two-year study, storm water management says it's come up with a $17.2 million solution. Of the six alternatives to be decided on by city commissioners, the recommended master plan is among the least expensive.
It includes additional pipelines, the expansion of the Carter Howell Strong Park retention pond and another small pond near the Greenwood Cemetery. It also includes a plan to build a new retention pond at Rollins Road.
John Buss says, "It's like a bowl and the problem is we can't get the storm water out of here at this point, so we need to store it higher in the watershed."
Buss says where the retention ponds go depends on where the water collects, so the sites were not selected at random. At one of the proposed sites on Rollins Road, at least six property owners are refusing to sell.
Don Mitchell, who lived in Frenchtown, says, “A lot of people do not move from these properties because a lot of people's families owned them from a long time ago, and what's to be established here, sometimes it's all they have."
Storm water management has drawn up a relocation plan that would pay residents higher than the replaced value costs and pay closing costs. For renters, moving expenses and deposits would be paid for.
Storm Water Manager John Buss says the decision going before city commissioners is finding a balance between the broader community interest and the property owners.