City commission discusses Town Branch plans, fate of flood-damaged building still unknown

Published 5:35 pm Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Winchester Board of Commissioners continues to discuss plans to repair the Town Branch drainage system while a local business owner waits to hear on the fate of his building.

Stephanie Blain of Palmer Engineering presented plans to the board on Tuesday designed to curb events like the Oct. 7 downtown flash flood.

The worst flood damage took place on E. Broadway St. when the overburdened drainage system eroded the foundation of the building that houses Cartwright Designs.

The building sustained a partial collapse and was condemned the next day, leaving the design shop closed and tenants in the upstairs apartments displaced.

Two plans seek to remedy the issue by moving the drainage system out from under the building by installing a series of box culverts.

One plan has the drainage system starting in Church Aly. before it connects with Broadway St. The estimated cost is currently $985,011.
Blain said existing utility lines would make that plan “trickier” than the others.

An alternative plan would have the culverts start behind the alley on Highland St. and then connect it on Broadway. The estimated cost is currently $1.4 million.

Blain said the issues presented by the alley utility lines also affect the plan but that it presents “reduced crossings” once work began on the Broadway St. section.

A third plan would have the city purchase the building, demolish it and replace the culvert in its current location. The project would cost $581,518.
Blain said it would not cause any issues with traffic in the area. The other two plans would require a road closure.
Palmer does have an estimate for how much it would cost to fix the building.

“We have estimated the building repairs currently at $215,00,” Blain said. “A large amount of that is the fill that would be required under the floor slab to stabilize all that.”

City Manager Mike Flynn said that structural engineers recently did some salvage work at the building.

“They performed work within the building. There’s been a lot of the debris inside the building that included a car and a lot of the things around the structure that had felled in that area have been removed,” he said.

The building’s owner, Wes Cartwright, still has concerns, which he relayed through his father, Don.
“He’s got financial stress right now,” Don Cartwright said. “It’s been two months; the bills haven’t stopped.”

Cartwright said that Wes cannot do any work since the utilities remain shut off at the building.

“He has no income, and he hasn’t for two months. There’s no income foreseeable until he gets some electric turn on down there,” Cartwright said.
He asked if the city could do anything to help his son.

Mayor Ed Burtner did not say the city would not help, but he advised that discussions between Cartwright’s attorney and the attorney for the city’s insurance carrier “need to play out.”

Ordinances

The board heard the first reading of two ordinances.
The first ordinance would create an administrative hearing board to serve both the city and county.

The proposed board would have five members: two appointed by the mayor, two appointed by the judge-executive and one appointed by both. It would be in charge of enforcing uniform building code standards, violations and penalties, providing appeal hearings, issuing property liens, and adopting a nuisance code.

The second ordinance, number 6.5-51, would amend the city’s nepotism policy.

Both ordinances require another public reading before they can be voted on.

GRC JROTC Honored

The board honored the national champion George Rogers Clark JROTC team with certificates of recognition.

The men’s team took first place in the team competition at the JRTOC All-Service Raider Nationals held last month in Georgia.

Burtner awarded the key to the city to the squad’s commander, Logan Dawson.

Dawson took home an individual national championship in the Ultimate Raider event.
Street Closure

Depot Street will be closed from 4 to 9 p.m. next Tuesday, Dec. 14, for the Winchester Old Fashioned Christmas Parade.
The parade starts at 6 p.m. and will move continuously along Main St. to the Hickman St. intersection.

Other Business

The Clark County Homeless Coalition, representing several other local organizations, requested and received approval from the board for $5,400 to help house the homeless during extreme winter weather events.

The city received the board’s approval to surplus three SUVs from its fleet of vehicles.

The board voted to hire Bryan Duty and Kelly Webster as EMTs.