Council OKs $27,205 duckbill repair bill

A $27,205 repair bill generated some discussion before it was approved during Thursday’s Marietta City Council meeting.

The funding is needed to fix the concrete support surrounding a duckbill backflow prevention valve along the Ohio River below the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The valve was one of seven installed along the Ohio and Muskingum rivers in 2009 at a cost of $230,000 to help keep floodwaters out of the city’s stormwater system during periods of high water.

Earlier this year the city engineering department discovered part of the riverbank surrounding the duckbill valve had eroded, causing the concrete revetment supporting the valve to tilt which essentially renders the valve inoperable.

The valve’s location is also just below the newest section of Marietta’s River Trail that is being officially opened to the public during a 1 p.m. ceremony at Fourth and Ohio streets today.

“We need to do this repair to prevent damage to the River Trail,” said Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large, chairman of council’s streets committee.

He noted the $27,205 contract is with PAE & Associates of Brookville which was the only company out of three that originally bid on the project with the proper equipment to do the work without risking damage to the newly-laid trail.

But Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward said he had some reservations about the project since the duckbill had only been installed four years ago.

“I had some serious questions and I’m not pleased that we have to re-do a project that was just completed a few years ago,” he said. “But I will support this legislation because we have no choice.”

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, noted the duckbill valve is important to help prevent flooding of businesses and residences in the city’s south end area.

“My only objection is that this wasn’t done before the new section of the River Trail was put in,” he said.

The duckbill valves were installed during the previous administration, when current Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, was serving as mayor.

“Just cleaning up after a flood would easily cost more than the money we’re spending on this repair,” he said.

The measure passed unanimously.

In other business, council approved the 2014 Public Housing Assistance Plan that must be submitted annually to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by Washington-Morgan Community Action.

Carrie McNamee, director of Senior and Community Services for Community Action, said the plan sets forth the local agency’s Section 8 housing goals for the coming year.

“The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is a federal grant awarded to the city in the amount of $1.8 million,” she said. “This grant award is used to not only provide rental assistance for families, but it also ensures landlords are receiving their rent every month.”

The goals of the housing assistance plan will be the same as in 2013, McNamee said.

Those goals include continuing to apply for additional housing vouchers when available; improving the overall quality of the program through voucher management; promoting and encouraging home ownership; and continuing to link voucher applicants and participants to other community services.

Also on Thursday council approved legislation prohibiting signs blocking the public right of way throughout Marietta, including on downtown sidewalks.

Abicht noted discussions about the ordinance had been taking place since July, and the measure was amended twice before final passage Thursday night.