Mesa might refuse $2M in stimulus funds - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Mesa might refuse $2M in stimulus funds

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Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 7:14 pm | Updated: 3:39 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Mesa is considering whether it will refuse $2 million in stimulus funds for a fire station if the federal government insists that it survive a 500-year flood.

The city would have to lift the station 4 to 5 feet to stay dry in that kind of flood - which city officials scoffed at because the fire trucks couldn't drive through streets with that much water.

"We are talking about a hydrological event of biblical proportions," Mesa Councilman Scott Somers said Wednesday. "The second coming of Noah's ark would have to happen."

$4M in stimulus to go to Mesa fire stations

Fire station 219 is planned near Signal Butte and Elliot roads, where some flooding occurs now. But flood control projects are planned in the area, Somers said, and the station work includes improving road drainage.

Most of the flooding problem would go away with the station's construction, Somers said.

"The irony is just thick," he said.

The station is caught up in other red tape, Somers said, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency is requiring environmental and archeological reports on the site. The city submitted reports that were done when it bought the land nine years ago but has been told to provide more updated information. Also, FEMA asked for an endangered species report to qualify for money through the American Recovery and Investment Act.

Assistant fire chief Jim Bloomer said the city is studying if it's worthwhile to take the federal funds because of the 500-year flood requirement. The department is looking at how much money and time it will take to redesign the facility under that standard.

Somers said such a major flood would make the fire station only accessible by boat. Mesa fire chief Harry Beck joked the city should apply for a grant for such a boat.

Mesa will contact the offices of Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Tempe, and Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Mesa, for help. Also, the city hopes it can get a regional FEMA director to agree to a 100-year flood standard.

Somers protested the standards the federal government is applying could keep stimulus funds from being used and employing construction workers.

"There's 181 jobs on hold," he said.

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