By Sandie Grassino
Twice in the last 18 months, Fenton and other areas along the Meramec River have had to cope with the effects of historic flood waters.
The first flood during December 2015, stretched into the 2016 new year. The impact of that flood was devastating to residents and businesses in the Fenton community. It also had a tremendous impact on the Parks and Recreation Department in Fenton. Some of the amenities taken for granted within the park system were so affected by the flood’s damage that it took nearly 10 months before they were back to a functional level.
Then, half a year later in May 2017, Fenton was met with another historic flood that came within six inches of the 2015/2016 levels.
The repairs will not take as long this time, according to Tom Diven, Fenton’s Parks and Recreation Director.
“The restoration plan is beginning,” he said.
It is a daunting task, he said, because, in part, his staff has to continue its normal day-to-day tasks and also work on the restoration.
The Heroes Memorial is a case in point. The bricks which pave the memorial have to be pulled up and then reset. This also had to be done after the last flood. Diven stated that the electric throughout the park system is “about ready.” Hopefully, Diven said, by the end of June, all league play will be reinstated on the fields in the system.
“The concession stands will not be available,” Diven said, noting their restoration is only about 50 to 60 percent complete.
Diven thanks all the residents and others who use the parks system for their patience. He said he understands that Fenton, as well as other areas devastated by the two floods, must prioritize the cleanup and repairs.
“Fenton deals first with its residents, then the businesses, and then the parks,” Diven said. Because of that, the cleanup and repairs within Fenton’s massive parks system “takes a little longer.”
Both Diven and Diane Bade, Alderman Ward 1 and Board Liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board, agree the damage in the parks from the second flood was less than that caused by the first.
“The only real damage done was to the beer cooler, which will probably need to be replaced,” she said. She said the fields are in good shape for league play and thefront restrooms are open, while the Meramec Inn and the rear restrooms remain closed at this time.
Bade said there is not much that can be done before the waters hit the parks to prevent damage. She noted, as did Diven, that the Public Works Department, who attends to much of the cleanup and repairs in these situations, is also understaffed. They, too, Bade said, had to be pulled off their normal jobs to do what had to be done regarding the cleanup. That, combined with having to take bids for work that has to be hired out in such situations, also slows up the cleanup and restoration processes.