Paletko considering suing county over flooding

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – Dearborn Heights officials could seek legal action following flooding from rains Nov. 29 and 30 that dumped about 3 inches of water on parts of the city.

Mayor Daniel Paletko said he is considering filing a lawsuit against Wayne County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers if clarification is not found on a 2009 Corps study that reviewed similar research in 1987 which recommended construction of a retention basin along the north branch of Ecorse Creek.

The project was not started due to lack of funds.

Following several floods since 1988, Wayne County officials requested a re-evaluation of the study, after area development made the data obsolete. The new study, started in 2004 and completed in 2008, sought another solution to the flooding around Ecorse Creek and was scheduled to be completed this year.

Paletko said he became aware of a possible funding problem earlier this year, when a Corps representative said the study was suspended due to a $500,000 shortfall in funds required for the study. Paletko said the city and the county have communicated on the future of the study as late as Dec. 2.

“We’re trying to get clarification if the Army Corps of Engineers study is moving forward,” he said. “There has been no clear communication from the county or the corps regarding an outcome.”

The results of the 2004 study outlined a plan for the city, along with other Downriver communities including Allen Park, Taylor and Romulus. A project was proposed to control the flooding, including a trapezoid-shaped channel and improvements to 81 drain crossings. Plans also called for installation of retention basins and widening of the creek in Dearborn Heights and Allen Park, creating a green belt, a location of undeveloped land allowing for water to flow and prevent flooded basements.

A cost-benefit ratio revealed the project would benefit the surrounding areas, despite the approximate $136.7 million price tag. The Corps will not fund a project if potential costs are too high, Paletko said.

Paletko said cost wasn’t an issue for the project.

“This project will save double the damages,” he said. “The community needs to be rated well over a 1 on the cost-benefit ratio scale and we’re a 2.”

Paletko said he expects to hear from the County soon. If the response is unfavorable, he said lawyers will meet with City councilors and take legal action.

Representatives from Wayne County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not return phone calls seeking comment by press time.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)