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NOESIS (NES) Engineering Services has been hired by the City of Salmon to conduct an engineering analysis of the City Skate Park and Public Rest Rooms located on Island Park to determine if their construction within the Salmon River floodway increases flood height. If no rise is detected NES will complete a No-Rise Certificate for the area.

Approval for the $3,840 procedure came somewhat reluctantly from the City Council after Acting City/County Planning and Zoning Administrator Teresa Morton explained why the certificate is needed.

Morton said in order to maintain the National Flood Plain Insurance Program (NFIP) agreement entered into by the city in 1984 an audit of all city owned structures is usually conducted by a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) every ten years to make sure all federal requirements are met. Last August the first audit in 17 years revealed several paperwork errors plus the absence of No-Rise Certifications for either the Skate Park or the Island Park Rest Rooms. Morton said in order for the city to remain in the NFIP the engineering studies have to be provided and show that neither structure has created a rise in the river level.

In answer to council questions Morton said the NFIP provides flood insurance for people in the flood plain area which is less expensive for homeowners than most private flood insurance. The program also makes the area eligible for federal grants. People who own their homes do not have to carry flood insurance but flood insurance is required for those with home loans on properties located in the flood plain. Non-compliance would mean the city being eliminated from the program which Morton said would affect everyone in the flood plain which is most of the city.

City Councilman Neal James called the situation “a flat out rip off” and said the hump on the island has been there for at least 50 years and the rise is where the old swimming pool used to be. He said he was not saying the city doesn’t have to do it, just saying it’s a rip-off.

Fellow councilmen did not disagree however because resident’s insurance rates could be adversely affected the council agreed unanimously to authorize the $3,840 engineering agreement with NES in the hope that No Rise Certification can be obtained.

The whole issue of what is and isn’t in FEMA’s Flood Plain designation boundaries is why Mayor Leo Marshall has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to redo/revise the agency’s flood plain maps. Current maps show homes on the Bar Hill as being in the flood plain. Recently the Corps responded that it will undertake the project and because of its scope it will take years to complete.

During a Public Comment opportunity city resident Dave Gusky asked why Google Earth couldn’t provide the same information in much less time.

Morton answered his question by explaining FEMA only accepts aerial remapping of flood plains that are done by LiDAR which costs around $500 per square mile. [LiDAR is a surveying technology which measures distance by illuminating a target with a pulsating laser light.]

The Corps’ office of Flood Plain Management Services has said it has some partial funding which could go towards Salmon’s remapping project and will look into what can be initiated this year.

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