The Des Moines City Council voted unanimously in favor of the Lower Fourmile Creek Greenway Project which hopes to reduce flood risk in that area.
Written on Monday, Oct 4, 2021
The Des Moines City Council voted in favor of every item on their agenda Monday, including an authorization that would relocate over two dozen Des Moines residents and businesses.
The Lower Fourmile Creek Greenway Project is the reason for the relocation, as it would acquire 47 tax parcels from 27 property owners through eminent domain, with the goal to restore the Greenway and reduce flood risk over the next five years.
Before public comment, councilwoman Linda Westergaard of Ward II assured those in the audience whose businesses and homes would be affected, that they would work with them to ensure they receive a fair and equitable transition.
Notices of this resolution were mailed to each affected property owner, contract purchaser, and tenant on Sept 17, 2021, but parties still had the right to voice their objections, and they did.
One constituent, Catherine Manhart, who has lived in her house since she was 20 years old and already lost her previous property from flooding, got emotional while begging council members to vote no.
“Please, please just let me stay,” she said.
She said she loves her home and the flowers she’s planted, the owls that nest, and the wild deer that walk through her backyard. She’s already struggling with a hip replacement and a recent cancer diagnosis so she said it would be hard to move to a new property.
Again, councilwoman Westergaard promised they would work with her to get her relocated.
Other constituents, like Don Young, owner of Young’s Tree Service, were upset that they would have to move their longtime businesses, which for Young has been there for almost 100 years.
Roy Mikesell, who was speaking on behalf of his father James Mikesell who also owns a tree service, threatened to sue the city over this issue.
“Maybe we need a class action lawsuit…Maybe we should sue this city,” he said. “And what right do you have to do eminent domain because of water? We don’t want to move.”
Bob Olmsted asked the question, Should everyone else in the flood zone be concerned about being bought out as well?
The city engineer, Steve Naber, said “that is the intent, yes” but didn’t know for certain until later in the meeting after stating multiple times that he’d “had to look at a map.”
Ultimately, he said that the goal is to get people out of the flood area for their own safety and to fully restore the greenway, but they don’t have a timeline because there is no money to do that right now.
Despite all statements made being in opposition, the council voted unanimously, 7-0, in favor of the authorization.