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Bemidji City Council: Tyler Estates homeowners seeking help

Homeowners affected by flooding in the Tyler Estates development have reached out to the Bemidji City Council seeking help.

Pete Hartmann, speaking on behalf of Tyler Estates homeowners, said his home has five feet of water in the lower level.

"The lower level is completely lost," he said, noting that his home and three others have sustained major damage.

Hartmann said he purchased his home four months ago. He knew there had been flooding problems in the past, but was told that the issues had been resolved.

"We're very concerned that flooding is going to continue out there," he said.

The Tyler Estates discussion had not previously been listed on the agenda, so the City Council listened and discussed the issue, but did not take action. Staff was directed to gather information and study possibilities for addressing the flooding.

City Engineer Craig Gray said there are three possible options:

-- Utilization of a storm water outlet pipe to bring overflow waters to the Mississippi River.

-- Building up Tyler Avenue Northeast.

-- Purchasing three homes and creating a larger pond.

Councilor Roger Hellquist suggested a fourth possibility: contacting the developer and holding the company responsible for its role in the creation of the housing plan.

There currently are two holding ponds on the property. A smaller pond, the north pond, is designed to hold smaller amounts of water before directing it to the larger pond at the south.

Gray said that water transfer is dependent on a water pump.

"Any time you're relying on a pump, you're setting yourself up for a pump not being able to keep up," he said.

City councilors noted that there are other entities involved, in addition to the city, that should be considering the flooding.

City Manager John Chattin said staff has spent "dozens and dozens" of hours looking into the situation in recent weeks.

"Staff is trying to get a meeting together of all these parties," he said, noting that the city, Bemidji Township, Beltrami County and the watershed district all will need to discuss the problem. "There aren't any easy answers to this, that's for sure."

City officials were empathetic to victims' stories.

Councilor Barb Meuers encouraged quick action and implored staff to keep homeowners apprised of ongoing discussion and action.

"I think time is of the essence here," Gray agreed.