One of the major projects of the half-cent sales tax increase would alleviate flooding that comes with heavy rains.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Daytona has large swaths of areas that flood particularly in the Black community, which is generally located on low-lying land.
Residents in the Midtown area are very familiar with the flooding issues, especially on the south side of town. Many of the neighborhoods, housing developments, subdivisions and streets often flood during storms and heavy rains.
This includes places like Palmetto Park, Caroline Village, Daytona Gardens, Campbell Middle School, and the John H. Dickerson Center.
Jessie, Magnolia, Verdell, School, Lockhart and other streets have their share of flooding. So have areas near Pine Haven and the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center.
Henry Butts Park, which sits between South Street and Bellevue Avenue, has a retention pond designed to help alleviate flooding in that area. Locals say it’s been overwhelmed with water during tropical storms and hurricanes that can dump water measured in feet, not inches.
Sales tax could help
The proposed countywide sales tax increase being endorsed by the city could help the area by funding a multiple-phased project to strengthen the flood abatement system. The tax is designed to raise funds for improvement to roads, sidewalks, storm water projects, bridges and other infrastructure
The half-cent sales tax will not apply to purchases of gas, groceries or medicine. For example, it would add about two cents to a “Four for Four” meal at Wendy’s. For large purchases such as automobiles and boats, the tax would only be applied to the first $5,000 of the purchase because the tax is capped at $25 per purchase.
There are plans, referred to as the Wilder Blvd. Outfall/Midtown Stormwater Improvements Project, to address the flooding and storm water drainage with a substantial share of the tax money.
Been through the floods
Residents took some time to share their experiences with flooding with the Times.
Tiwanna Johnson, who lives in Caroline Village, commented, “It’s terrible. I wish they would do something to fix it. Water gets all into your house and messes up your clothes, furniture and rugs. I’ve seen a person have to use a tractor to get to their car because the street was flooded.”
Michelle Stokes lives in the Palmetto Park public housing development, often referred to as “PPU” by locals.
Stokes said, “When it floods over here, the drains fill up first, then the entire end of the street floods within minutes. Next, the front yard floods, followed by the back yard. It floods all the way up to our front and back doors. Then you know it’s a river on the street.
“They redid the pipes and drains a few years ago, but they are just as worse as the old drains. It’s worst with the hurricanes. It floods with the rains and it stays flooded for days. In the summer, a heavy rainstorm floods the streets quickly.”
‘Life at a standstill’
Tyrone Benford lives in Daytona Gardens.
Benford told the Times, “I live upstairs, so it’s not as bad. During floods, life is at a standstill. The elderly can’t get groceries, prescriptions or visit the doctor. One time water was waist-high, making commuting impossible for days.
“The lack of food and resources make it difficult, especially for the kids and elderly. Tow trucks came and charged residents for rides. The fire department did help with free pharmaceuticals. No public officials or law enforcement came to help for three days. The Red Cross did serve hot dogs, chips and drinks. It was truly a horrible situation for many poor families.”
The Wilder Blvd. Outfall/Midtown Stormwater Improvements Project will be a three-phase project to improve storm water drainage in those areas. Each phase will cost $15 million, $13 million and $16 million, respectively.
Phase 1 will construct a drainage conveyance system in Fairway Estates that takes water to a pond system on the city’s golf course. A new pump station will move stormwater to the Halifax River through a new Wilder Boulevard drain that will route water to the river.
Phase 2 will construct a pump station at Henry Butts Park and a large drainpipe from the park to Wilder Boulevard.
Phase 3 will construct a control gate at Nova Canal with a square drainage pipe from that canal to the Butts Park pond to divert water from Nova Canal to the river. Drainage systems will be built throughout the project to ensure water gets where it’s supposed to go.
Millions per year
If the half-cent sales tax passes, it is estimated to bring in $45 million per year countywide. Daytona Beach’s share is expected to about $3.7 million per year, estimated at $74 million during a 20-year span.
The Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Office will mail out a single-question ballot FOR or AGAINST the tax on May 1. It must be returned by May 21.
Public meetings on the sales tax for information, questions and feedback are being held through the month of April every Tuesday and Thursday night around the city starting at 5:30 p.m.
More information can be found on the city of Daytona Beach website at www.codb.us/halfcent.