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Swiftmud has concerns about city's trail

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Published:   |   Updated: May 13, 2013 at 02:04 PM
BROOKSVILLE -

On a recent visit to inspect the progress of the city's Good Neighbor Trail, an official with the Southwest Florida Water Management District saw something that raised a red flag.
It was a large culvert dug into the earth.
The district official wondered whether the culvert was properly permitted and if it would impede the progress of stormwater on neighboring properties, according to Michael Molligan, communications director for the water district known as Swiftmud.
That culvert prompted Clay Black, with Swiftmud's regulation department, to fire off a notice of unauthorized construction to the city manager.
In that letter, Black said it appeared the city failed to obtain the required environmental resource permit before beginning the job and appears to be in violation of Florida law.
Black ended by saying the matter will be turned over to the district's attorneys for legal action.
While the notice seemed ominous, Molligan said the letter was more an attempt to alert the city of the potential problems during construction of the trail.
Before any action is taken and a final determination is made, Molligan said the district will review the historical photographs of the site and compare those to current conditions.
At least one concern has been resolved: Molligan said late Thursday the city will not need a permit for the new culvert.
But still in question is a depression a few feet deep on either side of the culvert. Installing this new 36-inch culvert could impede the flow of stormwater.
The old culvert was the same size but because it was half buried, it wasn't fully open to accept water.
"We just want to make sure it's being done right and it's not going to cause a problem and (they) don't alter the way runoff runs across the property," Molligan said.
Vice Mayor Lara Bradburn said Brooksville officials are banking on the Good Neighbor Trail - 10 years in the making - to be the lynchpin in the city's revitalization program.
When completed, the roughly 11-mile trail will extend from Brooksville Avenue and connect with the Withlacoochee Trail in Ridge Manor.
Bradburn said the site in question is on the first leg of the trail and that the city and county worked together to get a permit exemption from Swiftmud.
She believes the Black memo is a miscommunication and there is no violation. She expects the work on the trail to proceed on schedule.
City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha, in a July 28 memo to Swiftmud, said she has not seen flooding of any street downstream of the culvert.
"The recent heavy rains have filled up swales all over the city and the ditches that the culverts were installed in have flowed at full ... capacity, as have most of the other ditches in the city during heavy rains," she said.


Reporter Michael D. Bates can be reached at 352-544-5290 or mbates@hernandotoday.com.

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