Environment

Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District Board is set to vote Monday on whether to approve a new plan for a stormwater storage basin in the city’s Smoketown neighborhood. The new plan — which would place the basin underground — will cost about $4.8 million more than the alternative, according to documents posted Friday by the agency.

The basin on Logan Street is one of 12 designed around the city to capture stormwater during heavy rain events. It’s part of a federal consent decree that is designed to reduce sewage overflows into the Ohio River.

But earlier this year, Smoketown residents raised concerns about the project’s inequality. Of the 12 basins, only Smoketown’s was designed to be above ground.

“They asked every other neighborhood that’s getting a basin, ‘Hey, do you want this above ground, or do you want this below ground and have a park on top?’ And they said ‘Oh, we’d rather have a park on top.’ But we didn’t even get asked, we didn’t get that courtesy,” Jessica Bellamy of the Smoketown Neighborhood Association told WFPL earlier this year.

Last month, the MSD Board authorized the staff to explore what it would take to change the project. Mayor Greg Fischer and MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott also supported exploring a redesign.

Originally, the plans called for the space to include a large, windowless brick building covering the basin. Now, the contractor has indicated they can pivot mid-project to cover it instead with green space for $4.8 million.

Here’s the description of the change from the documents included in the MSD Board’s agenda packet:

Change Order No. 2 includes major revisions to the facility by eliminating the proposed exterior one-story brick building covering the structure and replacing with an at-grade vegetated concrete cover. The changes are being made to per requests from the local community. Buildings will remain to accommodate pump access, electrical and control equipment, emergency generator, and basin access.

In the order, staff documents lay out the costs for making the change. The original contract — signed with Walsh Construction in February 2015 — was for $42,705,656. Another small modification was made in February of this year. If the board approves the new design, it would add another $4,850,000 to the project’s cost. The new total for the Logan Street Basin would be $47,906,892.

MSD spokesman Steve Tedder said it was hard to characterize the price range of the other similar basins because all are in different phases of planning, but this additional cost doesn’t make the Logan Street Basin significantly more expensive than the others.

The MSD Board meets in open session at 1 p.m. Monday.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.