Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 30, 2012

Flood control: State must prioritize Princeton project

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Residents in the city of Princeton have spoken in a unified voice. They want the state of West Virginia to help correct chronic flooding along Stafford Drive. It is now imperative for the state to answer the plea of the city’s citizens?

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition asking the state to approve a Small Cities Block Grant application which — if approved — would help keep flood-prone Stafford Drive open every time heavy rain arrives in the city. The petition containing the 2,000 signatures was hand-delivered by officials Thursday to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The city started circulating petitions last spring, according to Mayor Patricia Wilson.

“We’ve had them out since May, and we have collected over 2,000 signatures,” Wilson said last week. “Vice Mayor Marshall Lytton has really, really worked hard getting the majority of the petitions.”

Lytton said several businesses and local entities helped him collect signatures. He also went “door-to-door” in search of citizen support for the flood-proofing measure.

In the petition, residents are asking the state to approve a Small Cities Block grant to help alleviate flooding along Stafford Drive. The most recent flooding on Stafford Drive occurred Sept. 18 after a heavy rainstorm. The flooding once again created not only a headache, but also a safety hazard, for motorists.

The chronic flooding is a threat to public safety, and a deterrent to business. It must be addressed.

City Manager Wayne Shumate says the city has applied four times for the same Small Cities Block grant. The city has been seeking $500,000. Each of the four prior grant applications have inexplicably been rejected.

Flooding — and the threat to public property and the well-being of citizens in those areas impacted by high waters — is and must be a priority concern. Folks living along the Stafford Drive area, and motorists who must attempt to drive through high water along the busy roadway every time there is a torrential downpour, deserve better from our funding agencies, and our elected officials in both Charleston and Washington.

It’s time for our funding agencies — on both the state and federal level — to approve the city’s request. A flood control project should be viewed as not only a priority, but also as an emergency initiative. And it should be awarded priority funding.

We call upon the state of West Virginia to approve this all-important Small Cities Block Grant application for the city of Princeton — and to do so with haste. After all, it is only a matter of time before flooding strikes the city again.