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Posted on Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

Kingsley Street rain garden project expected to relieve flooding problems

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor officials say they're in the process of purchasing property at 215 and 219 West Kingsley Street, where they plan to demolish a boarded-up house and install a new rain garden to relieve area flooding problems.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday night to approve a $25,440 contact with Conservation Design Forum for design, construction and management services for the rain garden portion of the project. Funding, including a project contingency of $2,500, is coming from the city's stormwater capital budget.

The City Council already took action back in November to accept a Federal Emergency Management Administration grant to purchase the property, demolish the structure, and deed-restrict the property as open space. The rain garden is separate from the FEMA grant.

Demolition of the existing structure is expected to be finished by this fall, according to Jerry Hancock, the city's stormwater and floodplain coordinator. CDF will develop the grading plan to be used by the demolition contractor. Rain garden construction will follow.

The purpose of the rain garden, Hancock said in a memo to council, is to reduce flooding in the area by increasing both flood storage capacity and the potential for stormwater infiltration. He said it will help reduce the frequency of street flooding where Kingsley meets First Street.

The project site is in the floodway of Allen Creek, about 2,250 feet upstream of its outlet into the Huron River. Hancock said the site of the proposed rain garden is a local low spot within the Allen Creek floodplain and is one of the first areas to flood in the entire system. CDF will prepare grading and planting plans for the project. CDF's sub-consultant, PlantWise, will install the rain garden and take on maintenance responsibility for three years.

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Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

What is the status of this project? According to the article, the building was supposed to be demolished by this fall. As it is already the end of October is this still a go, or is there some delay?


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

The building at 214 W Kingsley appears to be above the floodplain, as I can see under the building, so I doubt it is an "illegal obstruction". The existing building at 219 w Kingsley looks like the basement takes in alot of water, probably more than a rain garden will. Oh well...25k for a rain garden vs. 750k for a water sculpture.

Craig Warburton

Thu, Jul 7, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

Mr. Stanton, I appreciate seeing the coverage on the derelict building at Kinglsey and First. My business is the tenant across the street at 214 West Kinglsey. I suspect Mr. Hancock nor his consultants, have ever stood at that corner and watched a major rain. I have. The flooding has next to nothing to do with water off that block (or those blocks) being unable to enter the storm sewer system. The flooding is completely due to high pressure discharge from the manholes in that very corner and on KInglsey between First and Ashley. We have seen the plume of water so intense from the manhole as to actually lift the cover several feet off the ground, well above the level of the developing pond, and balance it dancing in the water. That pond can get several feet deep. Last year, that pressured discharge caused significant erosion at the manhole that required a huge patch up with asphalt. After the water subsides, the mess at the storm drains certainly takes on the appearance of being the problem, but I looks to us as we watch it flood, the problem is elsewhere. The fact that the water has trouble receding because of the blockages on the storm drains is not really related to the development of the flooding. All that debris comes with the water. certainly looks like storm water from a significant area gets into the sewer with nowhere to go but up into that low spot. understand rain gardens.


Thu, Jul 7, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

gee thanks city council, you approved 1.2 million to move sewer and water pipes for the U, not enough left over to fix real constituents problems?

Bill Sloan

Thu, Jul 7, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

I installed a large rain garden a few years ago and I love it. The plants, a combination of indigenous plants and decorative grasses, are now mature and it's quite attractive in addition to capturing thousands of gallons of ugly runoff that now doesn't end up in the Huron river. A win-win on several fronts. Maybe the AA News could create a map of existing rain gardens so people interested in creating one could come and take a look.


Thu, Jul 7, 2011 : 4:16 a.m.

there seems like a lot of these rain gardens popping up? there are two in my neighborhood.

John Q

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

Mosquitos generally breed where there is standing water. Rain gardens aren't designed to hold water for long periods of time.

Vince Caruso

Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

The building at 214 W. Kingsley, also in the Allen's Creek floodway(!) and floodplain and has created an illegal obstruction in the floodway in this very low spot in the watershed. Many more homes (200?) upstream will flood because of this, that would not normally flood; last we check in June. The city is asking for $24M, and more, for watershed projects, mainly in the Allen's Creek, and we can't get a 2 minute phone call to the owner of the building to bring his building into compliance the way it was when he got his occupancy permit. Call Fred Beal (or the new owner if he sold it recently) and get then to fix this; he's a prominent builder in Ann Arbor he should know how to undo what was done. I know the city is aware of this violation, because we've been asking for over a year and a half, and it just across the street. Great to see this building come down and 'soft solutions' tried to clean up the watershed and reduce flooding. Many of the 'hard solutions' we have used are much more expensive, high maintenance and are a big reason for the huge flood hazard we are now facing.


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

What is to prevent this from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes? Is West Nile Virus not a problem in Ann Arbor?


Thu, Jul 7, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

buzz is right. Also, rain gardens are constructed so that they drain out fast enough that mosquitos can't breed there. That means they don't hold as much as a retention pond, but look lots nicer and are safer.


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

You throw a couple of mosquito dunks in the area, and when it floods, mosquitoes lay eggs there but none hatch. Also, no floods. Yay!


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

So if you dig a big deep hole and channel the water to it, the flooding of the other houses in the area will go away. What a concept. How much did the city spend disconnecting footing drains from the city sewer to prevent flooding?


Thu, Jul 7, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

You're comparing apples and toasters. The flooding in this part of town has nothing to do with overloads to the sanitary sewer system.


Wed, Jul 6, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

This sounds like an opportunity for school kids to volunteer and learn.