U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes improvements to Butler Creek in Kennesaw

Kennesaw City Hall in article about Butler CreekKennesaw government complex (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The proposed Butler Creek aquatic watershed ecosystem restoration plan could bring improvements to Butler Creek’s flooding problems, but it might not be enough to solve the soggy dilemma of frustrated homeowners who live nearby.

The plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers includes 10 projects in Cobb County. Seven are in unincorporated Cobb and three are in the city of Kennesaw. Project Coordinator Bill Higgins presented to Kennesaw City Council Monday.

According to Higgins, the study began in 1999, but funding was removed after the September 11 attacks. It was reinstated in 2014. The Corps is in charge of all design, permitting and construction.

Monday’s presentation focused on the Kennesaw projects.

The first site is on a property owned by the Beazer Gain construction company and the site of an 83-home residential development being built at Pine Mountain Road and Wellcrest Drive. The development has already come under fire by neighbors who are worried the additional structures will make the rain-related flooding problems worse.

The site contains a detention pond and enhanced wetland. At Higgins’ request, council granted site access to the engineers through Butler Ridge Park. Requests for access through the Beazer Gain property have been unsuccessful, Higgins said. At this time the engineers are only requesting permission for geotechnical investigations, not construction.

The second site is downstream of Butler Ridge Park at White Oak Court and is a stream bank armoring project, which involves reinforcing the banks with protective covering, such as rocks, vegetation or engineering materials.

The third is restoration of an outlet control structure that’s in disrepair upstream of Schilling Case Court. The structure is on private property, but the best access point is via city property.

Council member David Blinkhorn pressed for details on how much improvement the project would bring to the flooding issues Kennesaw homeowners are experiencing.

“What I’m interested in is improving Butler Creek to the point… that the people who are most affected can see an improvement, as opposed to just slowing the process down,” he said. “If we’re gonna spend this kind of money on it, I’d like to go back to the people and say, okay, we’re gonna be able to reduce it by two or three feet if we are able to do these things or reduce their flood insurance or whatever.”

Higgins said the reductions would be measured more in tenths of a foot than whole feet. “I don’t think we’re talking about that dramatic of a flood reduction. It’s both water quality and water quantity that they are looking to improve on Butler.”

“That answers the question. I’m looking for feet,” Blinkhorn said.

The 35% local cost share to Kennesaw is an estimated $331,779 and ongoing maintenance costs.

“Right now we don’t know whether all these projects are going to make it. The Corps is wanting to get on the pond property at Beazer Gains to see if what they have planned can even be done,” Higgins said.

City Manager Jeff Drobney said he had been made aware of the project prior to Monday’s meeting but was not informed of the local cost share or request that the city take on maintenance.

“Anytime I hear ongoing maintenance I just see dollar signs start flashing…those are two concerns I think the mayor and council would probably share as well,” Drobney said, indicating that the city can consider its options after the investigation of the detention pond is complete.

The Courier has reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and county officials for information on the seven sites in unincorporated Cobb County.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.

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