Work is wrapping up on the berm construction project near Dickey Bub Farm & Home.
Steve Dickey, owner of Dickey Bub, said the project was nearing a close. He said crews were still working on the site, but the berm should be finished soon.
Dickey said crews were working on the grading and Cochran, the engineering firm for the project, was scheduled to take measurements soon. If the grades are what Cochran is looking for, the berm can be seeded for grass and the project wrapped up.
The berm is being constructed to help protect Dickey Bub from future flooding. Work started in late July.
Dickey said the project has moved along quickly — much faster than he anticipated. He said he thought the project might take months but instead looks like it will be finished in just a few weeks.
The berm will act as a levee in an attempt to prevent Dickey Bub from flooding. Twice in recent years Dickey Bub has had issues with flooding from the nearby Bourbeuse River.
The business, located south of Highway 50 and west of Highway 47, was heavily damaged in a December 2015 flood and again was flooded in May 2017.
Dickey said the 2015-16 flood alone cost his business $1.5 million in lost inventory and $900,000 in lost sales. He said more than 13,000 manpower hours were needed to get back up and running.
Since the 2017 flood, Dickey Bub owners have been trying to come up with a solution. Working with Cochran, Dickey Bub studied the possibility of the aqua dam, concrete floodwalls and projects that would combine more than one method.
Eventually, a berm was deemed the best solution. Dickey said hopefully the berm will eliminate sleepless nights. He said whenever he hears a hard rain he begins to wonder if his store will flood.
The berm is in the flood fringe, and not the flood plain. Because of that distinction, the berm does not need a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
The berm runs just south of Dickey Bub, around the parking lot and then along the Jack in the Box site.
Once finished, the height of the berm would protect Dickey Bub from all but record flooding, City Administrator Russell Rost said. Only a repeat, or worse, of the historic 2015-16 flood would overtop the berm, Rost said.
The berm is expected to be up to 16 feet high at some points and will require 30,000 yards of dirt. Dickey said the dirt was hauled in from a Union industrial park site. That site was removing dirt for grading and Dickey was more than happy to take it.
Construction has forced a reorganization of city soccer fields. The area will have the same number of fields as before, but just in a different layout.
Dickey said he’s hopeful when the project is done, people will use the berm as a place to watch games. He said he thinks it will provide a unique angle.
Soccer practices are already being held on the newly aligned fields.
Construction costs will be funded by a newly created sales tax. Earlier this year, Union aldermen approved the creation of the Dickey Bub Community Improvement District. The CID covers the entirety of Dickey Bub and the vacant former Dollar General on the property. Both are owned by Steve Dickey.
Under the CID, a sales tax would be levied at the businesses in the district. Revenue generated by that tax would fund the berm project.
Rost said the project would cost an estimated $639,000.
The city will maintain the berm. The CID would pay for a mower needed to handle the slope of the berm.
The tax will be collected starting Jan. 1, 2020.
A board of trustees for the CID will be made up of five people, but the city has a controlling interest.
Three of the five seats would be allotted to the city of Union’s administrator, finance officer and engineer. The other two positions are mayoral appointments.
Rost said the city needs to have a majority in place in the event a major repair is needed. That way he said an amendment can be made to change the CID.
The first board includes Carrie Dickey, four-year term; John Rosenbaum, four-year term; and the three city officials on two-year terms.