Commission wants to floodproof city buildings

Commission wants to floodproof city buildings
Bradenton Beach officials want to floodproof and windproof the city hall building. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – Bradenton Beach City Hall, the Tingley Memorial Library, the police station and the public works buildings will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Instead of potentially replacing the city buildings with a new city hall complex – which has been discussed – the commission wants to floodproof and windproof the existing city hall, police station and public works buildings.

During the Tuesday, April 16 city commission work meeting, Building Official Steve Gilbert told Mayor John Chappie, Vice Mayor Jake Spooner and Commissioner Ralph Cole it would cost approximately $536,000 to floodproof and windproof the three city buildings. Gilbert said there would be additional ‘soft costs’ that include engineering, design and permitting.

Commissioners Marilyn Maro and Randy White missed the work meeting and were absent with excuse.

Commission wants to floodproof city buildings
The proposed project calls for Flex-Wall to be used to floodproof the police station’s ground-level floor. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

The proposed storm hardening project is contingent on the city receiving a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant would cover up to 75 percent of the project costs.

City Engineer Lynn Burnett said the commission will know if the city qualifies for the grant before committing approximately $134,000 for its share of the proposed material and labor costs. Burnett said the city has already asked for a one-month extension to submit the documents needed for the FEMA engineering review that was due last month.

“Our time is running out,” Burnett said.

Last year, the commission began budgeting $80,000 per year for the next three years to demonstrate its commitment to storm hardening and the pursuit of an HMGP grant.

Gilbert said the goal is to lower the city’s flood insurance premiums and bring them closer to the premiums paid for the elevated library building. The library building is insured for $382,800, its contents are insured for $245,900 and the flood insurance premium this year is $1,442.

Commission wants to floodproof city buildings
Flood panels would be used to seal off the doors and windows at the public works building. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

By comparison, the city hall building is insured for $500,000, its contents for $227,600 and the flood insurance premium is $12,843. The partially-elevated police station is insured for $500,000, its contents for $98,700 and the current-year flood insurance premium is $17,383. The public works building is insured for $263,700, its contents for $98,700 and the flood insurance premium is $5,918.

According to Gilbert’s chart, the city is paying $37,586 for flood insurance this year.

Proposed measures

Commission wants to floodproof city buildings
Flood panels are bolted in place to protect windows and doors. – Flood Risk America | Submitted

The proposed floodproofing measures include Flood Risk America (FRA) flood panels that would seal off the front and rear city hall door areas. Made of a composite material and secured with stainless steel anchors and bolts, the flood panels would be installed before an anticipated storm or tidal event.

Flood panels would also be used to seal off the public works building doors and windows.

“The engineer’s fairly confident that by doing that we can floodproof that building to withstand five feet of water,” Gilbert said of the building that stores the heavy equipment needed for the city’s storm recovery efforts.

Gilbert, Burnett and LTA Engineers staffer Eran Wasserman recommend the permanent installation of a Flex-Wall flood barrier for the lower level of the partially-elevated police station. Flex-Wall barriers are made of high-strength, waterproof fabric that would be stretched into place when needed to protect the police station’s lower level.

Commission wants to floodproof city buildings
The permanently installed Flex-Wall can be quickly deployed to seal off doors and windows. – | Submitted

Gilbert said Flex-Wall makes more sense for the police station because it can be deployed or retracted in about 20 minutes and police personnel would be the last to leave and the first to return after a storm-related evacuation. The police station’s second-story front door does not require floodproofing because it sits well above Base Flood Elevation level.

The floodproofing and windproofing efforts would also include some structural reinforcements and new hurricane-rated windows and doors where needed.

Chappie, Cole, Spooner and Gilbert agreed there was an inherent value in preserving the ground-level city structures residents are accustomed to and the commission adopted three motions to do so.

The first directed staff to continue reviewing the proposed windproofing and floodproofing improvements. The second directed staff to work with Whetstone Engineering to proceed with the design plans for the grant application, at a maximum cost of $6,000. The third motion reiterated the commission’s desire to keep city hall where it is and better protect it from flood and wind damage.