"If you look at the options, there's a fairly sensible solution in there," said Lonnie Laffen, a consultant hired by the city to help with the redesign of government buildings.
Floods pose an unusual challenge for designers and architects, Laffen
Designers must meet the city's need and comply with FEMA rules for buildings in a flood plain.Uncertainty about the future lingers.Decisions that rest with the federal government could shape which plan Cedar Rapids chooses.Laffen, a partner at JLG Architects in Grand Forks, N.D., said building a flood wall too close to the riverbank downtown would hinder efforts to protect the buildings on May's Island - including City Hall and the Linn County Courthouse, both of which flooded in June.
...The location of flood walls and levees - up close to the river, or set farther back - will determine their height and cost, said Laffen, the Grand Forks consultant.
Grand Forks revamped its flood safeguards after a comparable flood devastated the town of 52,000 in 1997.
The removal of houses in Grand Forks was offset by a buzz of construction that Laffen
said helped strengthen the economy.The town lost thousands of residents, but it improved its quality of life for residents who stayed.
"Economically, we thought there would be a huge financial impact, but there wasn't," Laffen
Cedar Rapids' Option 1 would set most of the levees and flood walls at the river's edge.Laffen
said the proposal would preserve more existing neighborhoods, but it would cost more than others and would require taller walls to shield the public.
Planners also have floated the possibility of rerouting the river around the city, a plan that would cost at least $2.8 billion and take a decade to complete.The suggestion was not included in any of the three main strategies.Laffen
said the use of green space - which will require some property buyouts - would most likely win public support.
"People want to be protected from this happening again," he
said."It's just too painful."