MIAMI, Okla. — A Town Hall meeting to update the community and learn more about the flooding issues facing Miami residents is set for June 10th.
When Grand Lake is full, upstream flooding results in Ottawa County as far north as Steppe Ford Bridge in Commerce.
The public Town Hall meeting focusing on the “Pensacola Project” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Coleman Theatre located at 103 N Main Street in Miami.
“This Town Hall meeting is so important to the future of Miami and Ottawa County,” said Bless Parker, Miami mayor in a prepared statement. “Everyone in Ottawa County and in Miami needs to hear this information and hear about these issues.”
Former mayors Brent Brassfield and Rudy Schultz, and current Miami City Manager Bo Reese and Mayor Bless Parker will be making presentations about the Pensacola Project.
“This Town Hall meeting and these processes are vitally important to Miami and the community as the results of years and years on ongoing backwater flooding,” Reese said.
“I can’t stress enough how we need to rally and continue to speak up, be heard, and keep this new momentum going,” Reece said.
Attorneys Larry Bork and Walker Stanovsky will also address the crowd.
Bork represents 456 plaintiffs, including the City of Miami in the civil litigation in a class action proceeding, and Stanovsky is an Associate of the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm representing the City of Miami in the relicensing process.
At the center of the lawsuit is an Army Corps of Engineers document stating, that the “owners are apparently accustomed to this condition” and “it would be much more economical to pay damages, when and if caused by smaller floods than to acquire the additional flowage easements.”
In 1999 Judge Robert Reavis ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, a ruling that has withstood appeals to higher courts.
“Flooding is not only a natural disaster but also the fate of the development of inadequate urbanization,” said Melinda Stotts, City of Miami spokeswoman.
Understanding the history of the Grand Lake’s creation through the Pensacola Project is key to understanding how the flooding began to take its toll on Ottawa County, Stotts said.
Historical public records show in the 1930s the Federal Power Commission and the Grand River Dam Authority’s engineers were at odds over the best proper elevation of the flood pool, she said.
The Federal Power Commission wanted an elevation of 735’ feet but GRDA wanted it set at 745’ feet to allow more water for power generation.
The compromise was for GRDA to promise to pre-release water to ‘735 during a flood event. This allows the release of enough water to prevent the Neosho River from exceeding bank capacity. This has never been done since the dam was built in March of 1940, Stotts said.