OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A metro church calls on the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, hoping for help from crippling neighborhood flooding.
The state though, hopes to sell the land caught in controversy.
It’s an issue that neighbors swear has only become worse.
Jake Bogner, who lives in a Mustang Creek housing addition, says flooding has become more frequent.
“Backyards, front yards, streets, have all been flooded over the years,” he explained.
His neighborhood is nestled near the Kilpatrick Turnpike, which he claims has caused flooding to increase.
That sentiment is echoed inside the nearby United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd.
“It comes up to our parking lot, two more feet our whole building’s gonna be flooded,” said Karen Graves, who’s on the church’s board of trustees. “It has become a critical time to save our church, we need to address this.”
This west edge of Oklahoma City is in a flood plain, with the nearby Mustang Creek cutting across the area.
So too does the Kilpatrick.
“We’re right next to the turnpike,” said Michael Smith, another church trustee. “So, the high berm of the turnpike captures a lot of that water and brings it right down to us pretty quick.”
Michael Smith is also a geologist and is hoping for help from the Turnpike Authority, in using land just off of the roadway for flooding mitigation.
But he’s since learned, much of that land is now for sale.
“They’ve built a large dike essentially through this water shed. It is causing a change in water flow,” Michael noted. “They’re apparently willing to walk away from that responsibility, and we don’t want that to happen.”
Several chunks of land owned by the Turnpike Authority are up for auction later this week.
The Authority sent the following statement:
“The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority works diligently with our team of Civil Engineers and Hydrologists to have a zero hydrological impact to the drainage areas that the Oklahoma Turnpikes cross. Recently, Turnpike officials met with area residents along with Oklahoma City and Canadian County officials to discuss the context of recent rainfall events and associated concerns. The need to expeditiously return remainder properties not required for the direct operation and management of the turnpike network for private use and purposes is extremely important. However, the Turnpike Authority has no role in determining the future use of those properties and we have not been requested to delay the sale of, reserve or retain any parcels for hydrological or other purposes by the local governmental entities.”OKLAHOMA TURNPIKE AUTHORITY SPOKESPERSON
Michael and the church, though, fear what might happen if the land is sold on the open market.
“That’s a lost opportunity, the lands around the turnpike will flood,” said Michael. “Unfortunately, the people who purchase those lands will be the ones who suffer from those floods.”
“They built a fantastic highway, and I enjoy driving on it,” Karen added. “But they need to build a fantastic drainage system to support that highway.”
The City of Oklahoma City is planning on a city wide drainage basin study, which would include this area of Mustang Creek.
Neighbors are asking the Turnpike Authority to delay the auction until that research is complete.
The land is set for auction this Thursday at 6 pm.