Goal would be to help improve drainage

Havelock officials are considering using grant money to improve the McCotter Canal in an effort to ease flooding in the eastern part of the city.

Havelock city planner Katrina Marshall said she learned recently that the city has $337,812 in Community Development Block Grant funding that is available. The federal program is administered through the N.C. Rural Economic Development Division.

“The city had a deed of trust on Tyler Place Apartments from Community Development Block Grant funding in 1995. There was a deed of trust and it was recently released,” said Marshall. “The funding is only available for certain types of projects.”

Prospective projects must fall under health and welfare, or rural development categories.

Marshall said other projects considered included the acquisition of property that is blighted or inappropriately developed, construction or installation of public works facilities and other site improvements, or activities necessary to develop a comprehensive community development plan.

The project must serve an area where not less than 51 percent of the residents are considered low and moderate income.

City Manager Frank Bottorff said if the city doesn’t agree on a suitable use, the money would be lost.

McCotter Canal handles drainage from much of the eastern part of the city. The three-mile canal runs from near the Cinema 6 theater, to behind the end of Outer Banks Drive and empties into a swamp off N.C. 101.

City officials say the canal is eroding vast portions of an adjacent gravel roadway and as well as areas behind multiple properties that back up to the large ditch.

Bottorff estimated that “many millions of dollars” may be needed to correct problems along the canal.

“I am looking at purely planning and engineering money,” said Bottorff. “We’re not going to accomplish much at all. Three hundred (thousand) won’t even cover the engineering, let alone the project but we need to start the planning of it to figure out what the requirement really is and what our options are to fix our perceived problem. Our goal is potentially to use this to work with a firm to start evaluating the problems and coming up with options.”

A survey and aerial photographs would be needed to define the scope of the work, he said. Estimates on fixing the canal range upwards of $3 million.

“We’re kind of at the point where we can’t keep running away from McCotter Canal,” Commissioner Karen Lewis said.

“We think it’s something we are probably going to have to address sooner rather than later,” said Bottorff.