Manhattan city leaders look at expanding flood buyout program

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – The city of Manhattan is considering expanding a program that buys and demolishes property in areas prone to flooding.

Over the past year, the city of Manhattan has used more than $1.1 million worth of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants to buy homes near Wildcat Creek. The creek is prone to flooding, most recently on Labor Day in 2018. Now city leaders want to expand the program to include commercial properties.

“Some of our flood plains do have commercial buildings, not just residential and so thinking about is there some future opportunities to help elevate some of those businesses out of the flood plain and maybe do some redevelopment,” said Dennis Marstall, Assistant City Manager.

In June, the City Manager’s office submitted a proposal to the Manhattan City Commission to buy the Schwab-Eaton location at 1125 Garden Way. The location has flooded twice, in 2011 and 2018, and is currently unoccupied.

In the past, the city has purchased property using a combination of FEMA grants and money from the State of Kansas; however, the state will not use state money to buyout commercial property. The Manhattan City Commission is now considering using city funds to buy the property.

“Some of our initial conversations have been using local funds which gives us more flexibility. Is there potentially a way to redevelop the land and not just keep is green space,” said Marstall.

The FEMA grants the city has been using stipulates that once the properties are demolished, they stay green space and cannot be redeveloped.

The Manhattan City Commission is still considering the proposal. There is no timeline for a decision. Click here to take a look at the proposal.

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