Drainage improvement may dominate proposed May city bond issue election

At the podium, Ralph Montgomery of Monticello Circle addresses the Devine City Council about flooding issues plaguing his property. The council discussed this and other flooding problems during its Nov. 13 meeting.

By Anton Riecher
Flooding received the most attention during the Nov. 15 session of the Devine City Council with speculation about adding $4.8 million in drainage improvements to a possible bond issue election in May 2023.
Ralph D. Montgomery, owner of two houses at 406 Monticello Drive, addressed the council about “tremendous runoff” from Fox Run and Libold Drive affecting his property.
“I bought the property four years ago and I’ve had this problem ever since I bought the place,” Montgomery said. “It only happens during heavy, hard rain.”
Video coverage of the council session is posted at the Devine News’ YouTube channel.
Over the year the problem has grown worse with water backed up into the alley behind his home “coming in the back door” during the last major rain, he said. He blamed the new flooding on construction near his home.
Dealing with the problem at Montgomery’s address and throughout a large portion of District 4 would require a system of box culverts to reroute water from north of Mockingbird Lane, Mayor Cory Thompson said.
Thompson noted that the city staff has been unable to locate building permits on record for the construction at Montgomery’s address.
“Was there nothing in the seller’s disclosure when you bought the property because this isn’t a new problem?” Thompson asked.
Montgomery said no. He also told the council he took offense that the original construction at the site was for a business and not a home.
“It’s all been approved by the city,” Montgomery said. “How did it get built if it wasn’t approved?”
Thompson said a much less expensive alternative of building a wall to divert the runoff had been rejected as ineffective because openings must be permitted for driveways.
Montgomery complained that the city had previously built a wall from the alleyway behind a nearby home to Monticello Circle as a means to divert the water. However, that wall has seen no maintenance and is now overgrown with grass and weeds.
Thompson asked city engineer Raul H. Garcia to develop “a more realistic plan” for handling the drainage issue. District 2 council member Angela Pichardo told Montgomery the city would have to find a solution best for “the overall population.”
“If we do fix your situation it would fix quite a bit” of the District 4 flooding issues, she said.
The council also addressed drainage in the 400 block of W. Park Avenue near the intersection with Washington Drive.
“To permanently fix the problem will require a street reconstruction project of the adjacent streets that contribute to this area,” Garcia said.
As with Monticello Drive, the issues on West Park may require bond issue funding on the May ballot, Thompson said. However, since the flooding is attributable to the contours of the property anything major that would divert natural drainage would require federal approval.
On motion by District 5 council member Debbie Randall, seconded by District 3 council member David Espinosa, the council voted 4-0 to direct Garcia to come up with price estimates. District 4 council member Josh Ritchey was absent from the meeting.
In other action, the council passed a motion to correct action taken in April to award a contract for a water transmission line to Qro Mex Construction Company for the base bid of $146,818, plus $100,000 for the additional work contained in an alternate bid.
While the original motion still stands it “should have been worded slightly differently,” Thompson said.
On action of Pichardo, seconded by Espinosa, the council approved the purchase of available property adjoining Curcio Park for future expansion. City Attorney Thomas P. Cate explained that delinquent taxes owed on the property to various entities totaled about $12,500.
Peggy Lester, a resident of Warhorse Drive, asked the council to consider moving a propane tank at the city water tower. She said she was concerned that the tank could pose an explosion risk if struck by lightning.
City staff reported that the tank was placed on site to fuel an emergency generator during the winter storm of February 2021. The tank is already scheduled to be moved.
The council voted to approve the installation of a street light at 509 Howell Ave. after owner Mary Uhl agreed to cover installation costs in the neighborhood of $180.
Also approved was action to lease a portable building near the golf course clubhouse to Devine Golf Group for storage at a cost of $200 a month on a yearly lease.
Council members approved plans for the Devine Women’s Golf Association and the Devine Golf Group to conduct a golf cart parade at 7 p.m. Dec. 16. No street closure was required for the parade.
The council approved rescheduling its Dec. 20 regular session meeting to Dec. 13.