The city of Ringgold has approved a hydrology study of the historic downtown block and several neighboring streets after heavy July rains caused flood damage to multiple businesses.

The downtown flooding issue was first addressed during the July 22 City Council meeting when local attorney and property owner McCracken Poston voiced his concerns about his building that houses Caffeine Addicts.

When heavy rain storms struck the area on July 9, businesses like Caffeine Addicts, Ringgold Art & Frame, Trestle Side Antiques and others suffered flood damage when significant amounts of stormwater washed into the back of the buildings along Cleburne Street.

Two weeks later, during the Aug. 12 meeting, officials discussed having engineers performing an extensive hydrology study to determine the cause of the flooding and hash out a plan to prevent future occurrences.

“CTI Engineers has prepared a task order,” City Manager Dan Wright said. “This would be for them to provide services related to stormwater analysis of the historic district in the Cleburne Street drainage area.”

Wright said the study will cost, but that it’s imperative that the issue be addressed as soon as possible.

“The cost of this would be $12,000,” Wright said. “This item is not budgeted. But due to the nature of it and the importance, we recommend the council approve the task order so they can get started immediately.”

As discussed during the July meeting, Mayor Nick Millwood reiterated that the city wants to honor requests from Poston and other business owners to be kept in the loop about the study so they can offer feedback.

According to Millwood, CTI Engineer and Project Manager Philip Schofield will be working with the business and property owners affected by the flooding in order to take their input into account.

“I look forward to the results,” Millwood said. “The council will be very open about what we find and make that information as readily available as it is to us.”

While stormwater studies are done all the time in various towns and communities, council members Kelly Bomar and Sara Clark assured that the study will be an extensive one.

“There is a lot involved in this,” Bomar said. “It takes a lot of things into account — not just the street, but the whole drainage area. We want to make sure to see exactly what we’re looking at and how to move forward from that. It’s a very in-depth study.”

“We’re going to look at the whole drainage basin,” Clark added. “We want to try to get a more complete picture of the water, what has been done, possibly what needs to be done, and categorize it into what the solutions would be for the city.”

Some of the business owners in attendance praised Schofield for what he’s been able to communicate to them during initial discussions. Poston especially said Schofield has been very helpful and open thus far.

“We’re looking at the entire drainage basin,” Schofield said. “Everything drains down to what my understanding is a 4-foot by 6-foot culvert that goes under the historic district buildings. To know what’s really going on in that area, you have to look at the whole drainage basin.”

Schofield said the work will also consider buildings that have been removed and erected in recent years that have changed the landscape of downtown.

In July, Poston expressed his theory that a new building between Cleburne Street and Mountain Street and its parking lot are a primary cause for why the water shed down to the Cleburne Street businesses.

The council unanimously approved the task order, as well as a second one to evaluate other areas of downtown. Other areas of study will include Depot Street, Lamar Street at Tiger Trail, Church Street at Lafayette Street, and behind the Factory Connection building.

“This task order also has not been a budgeted issue, but due to the nature of importance, we recommend approval of $6,430 on all of those various streets,” Wright said.

In total, the city will spend $18,430 on hydrology studies and planning related to the historic downtown block and the aforementioned streets.

Mayor Millwood stressed the importance of the study, and how he hopes to address the concerns of all the citizens who’ve experienced damage.

“When that storm came through, people contacted multiple people on the council about some of these very specific locations and it’s very much needed.”

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area.

He has been a reporter since 2009.

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