FEMA funds slash city’s cost to demolish riverfront properties

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Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:00 am

The final figures are in and the cost to Bellevue of removing the remaining residences along the Missouri River will be much less than forecast.

Marlin Petermann, assistant general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, said grant funds totaling $1.7 million have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That figure represents 75 percent of the total project cost of $2.3 million, leaving $565,320 to be split between the City of Bellevue, Sarpy County and the NRD.

Additional grants cut that figure by more than half, reducing Bellevue’s contribution to $90,887, down from the $250,000 the city was initially expected to pay.

Petermann said the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency has been contracted to appraise the value of the 42 homes remaining in the riverfront communities of Iske Place and Elbow Bend and to negotiate their sale.

He said it could be another 18 months before the flood-wracked homes are finally demolished and removed and the riverfront restored to a pristine condition.

The financial good news for Bellevue came courtesy of two grants, one from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and another from Back to the Riverfront, Inc.

The Nebraska Environmental Trust grant reduced the remaining $565,320 by half, to $282,660, and the Back to the Riverfront grant knocked $10,000 off that.

When all the gifts had been applied, just $272,660 remained to be covered by the three local agencies.

The payments will end a long battle to remove hundreds of residents from 163 houses in three communities that had grown up along the Missouri River south of the Bellevue city limits. The residents for years fought the effort but in 2011 agreed to settle after enduring three major floods in 19 years.

A 1993 buyout closed down the Holub’s Place community when residents agreed to sell all 74 riverfront properties to the NRD. But only 27 of 44 properties in Elbow Bend were sold, and none of the 45 residences in Iske Place.

That buyout cost just over $5 million.

Since 1993, the number of residents occupying riverfront homes has dwindled even further, with about 30 homes remaining in Iske Place and about 12 in Elbow Bend.

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