New Boston asks city for floodwall update

Joedy McCreary

May 3, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

The Village of New Boston this week sent a letter to the City of Portsmouth asking for an update on the city’s floodwall certification. According to the letter, sent by Village Solicitor Justin Blume to City Solicitor John Haas, the village has completed its part of the certification and is only waiting on Portsmouth to finish theirs before the floodwall can be certified.

“The Village stands ready to submit the required documents to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to acquire the necessary certification,” Blume wrote to Haas. “However, the Village’s project manager believes that FEMA will not certify a portion of the floodwall. It is my understanding (as well as the project manager’s) that both New Boston and Portsmouth must submit their certification documents simultaneously with one another for either to receive approval.”

Haas spoke to the Daily Times on Friday and said the city’s portion of the work is moving forward and nearly complete.

“He (Portsmouth Wastewater Director Richard Duncan) requested some money to pay the consultants to finalize our report. There’s going to be one project the city’s going to have to undertake to bring it up to standard, and I think there might have been a request in there for that money as well,” Haas said.

Asked if the city could be certified before finishing that project, Haas said he did not know.

FEMA announced the new certification requirement in 2010 to cities and communities across the United States. The agency warned that while this was not a mandate, FEMA would de-accredit any community’s floodwall that has not met the requirements before the deadline of April 2011. Because FEMA insisted the new regulations were not a mandate, there was no state or federal funding to support the project. However, if the communities didn’t follow through, it would be the citizens that paid the price with increased flood insurance rates.

Neither New Boston nor Portsmouth completed their repairs before the FEMA deadline in April 2011, and the de-accreditation process was started for the village in February 2012. New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton reported in November 2012 that the village had completed its work and was ready for certification. The village secured a $400,000 line of credit at U.S. Bank, and awarded the job to AMEC Engineering from Cincinnati.

The village’s project total was $300,000.

Now six months later, the village is still waiting for the city to finish its portion of the floodwall. The city used two different consultants for their project, which found different sets of issues that would need to be addressed.

“Now you’ve got two consultants, with differing opinions, and somebody’s got to sign off on this report. It’s just — our hands have been kind of tied. Nobody came out and said this, but the way I read it, they’re kind of bickering about … neither one wants to sign off on the other person’s work. That’s kind of where we’re at. My understanding is I think that’s going to be resolved here shortly,” Haas said.

He said the issue will be discussed during the next meeting of Portsmouth City Council.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.