Monroe council nixes spending $192K on storm water study at Bicentennial Commons Park

City hopes to survey residents to see what park improvements they want council to prioritize.

Monroe Mayor Keith Funk said the 40-acre Bicentennial Commons Park has the potential to “make Monroe a destination.”

But after a lengthy debate during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, members voted 6-1 to not authorize City Manager Bill Brock to enter into an agreement to pay Fishbeck Engineering $192,000 to perform a hydrology study at the park on Ohio 63.

The plan was divided into four sections: field study, soil borings and subsurface geophysical investigation, hydrology analysis and storm water plan and storm water system conceptual design. The study was expected to take five months to complete and push Phase II development plans well into 2023.

Council member Jason Frentzel was the lone “yes” vote.

Before the city moves forward on a project that has cost taxpayers $2.4 million to complete Phase I, Vice Mayor Christina McElfresh suggested surveying residents to see if they want money spent on Bicentennial Commons storm water study or other city park improvements.

A survey, she said, is the “right thing to do at this juncture.”

Brock said he would work with the Park Board to comprise questions for residents and those questions would be forwarded to be approved by city council. When asked, Brock said it was too early to estimate the cost of a survey.

Public Works Director Gary Morton has said the hydrology study is needed because concrete buried several feet has been there for decades when the property was Americana, and prior to that LeSourdsville Lake. That concrete is keeping the park from draining properly and leaving standing water days after heavy rains.

Even if the storm water study isn’t completed, Morton said the city must make some improvements to insure the playground equipment and concrete that have been installed aren’t damaged by the standing water.

Funk said there was “a lot of uncertainty” regarding Bicentennial Commons park that made decisions difficult.

Council member Marc Bellapianta said the project was estimated to cost $9.7 million several years ago, and now the price tag is closer to $20 million.

“Where is this going?” he asked.

Council member Tom Callahan called spending $192,000 to survey the water issues at the park “a waste of money.”

Council was scheduled to vote on the legislation at its last meeting, but the vote was tabled until Tuesday.

Brock said he met with Butler County MetroParks officials recently who said they were not interested in taking over the property, but they would assist in planning the overall development.

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