HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It’s been on the back burner for far too long.
“Finally there is a time when you really have to quit talking about doing something and actually start doing something,” according to Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.
He’s talking about the city’s storm water system, or rather, the lack thereof.
For decades, city streets have been flooding because the current system can’t handle the run off during even moderate rains. Williams said Huntington is the only city in the state being fined for storm water problems and it’s time to follow the lead of other communities.
“Several other cities, in the state, have already implemented their own storm water programs and we’re learning, from their experiences,” explained Williams.
The mayor will present a proposed storm water system plan to Huntington City Council Monday night. He says it’s not a quick fix. The city must be ready to make a long term investment in a plan that could take decades. He said the initial proposal is small.
“We’re starting with baby steps. We’re only putting together about a $1.2 million budget to allow us just to get started,” according to Williams.
He said he’s not even sure how much it will cost the city to complete the full plan. He’s heard numbers from $200 million all the way up to $600 million. Those numbers have scared away city leaders in the past, from tackling the problem.
“The first time that we heard of this ever being proposed was all the way back in 1948, 65 years people have been talking about it!”
Williams said the way he’s budgeted the proposed plan, the price tag won’t be overwhelming. He estimated, 90 percent of people who live in Huntington will pay about $7 a month. That’s 25-cents a day.
He is confident it will get council approval but not by a unanimous vote.
“I wouldn’t have brought this to council if I didn’t think I had the votes, stressed Williams. “I was born at night but not last night. I know there will be some folks that will be resistant.”
He hopes to win them over with a plan that will stop the flood of problems.