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Jamestown And Lyons Continue To Work On Post-Flood Housing

Grace Hood
Debris is cleared at one of Lyons' two mobile home parks destroyed by the September 2013 floods. KUNC file photo from August 23, 2014.

Almost a year and a half after flooding wiped away scores of homes in Lyons and Jamestown, the small towns continue to rebuild. In 2015, the communities will tackle some of the most difficult aspects of bringing residents back – replacing either the lost structures or finding new parcels of land.

In Lyons the challenge around housing centers on building more affordable residences. The town lost two trailer parks which held about 50 homes. Few of those residents have yet to return to Lyons.

To change the picture, the Lyons board of trustees voted Jan. 5 to move forward with one project to build a 50-70 unit housing project using a few acres of Bohn Park south of downtown. Lyons Mayor John O'Brien said the project is vital in replenishing 20 percent of the housing stock lost in the 2013 flood.

"This is an attempt to just partially rebuild some of that stock," O'Brien said. "It's a very important step to bring some of our people back and provide affordable housing."

The project is encountering some opposition from a resident group called Save Our Parks and Open Space. Residents are expected to give the final thumbs-up or down on the project March 31.

Meantime in Jamestown, about 90 percent of residents have returned. Mayor Tara Schoedinger said bringing home the last 10 percent will be more difficult because most are in the midst of applying to federal home buyout programs. The process is posing a financial burden to participants.

"If they're going to have their property bought out, they really need to do that as soon as possible because they're paying mortgage payments on a property that doesn't exist," Schoedinger said.

The next challenge comes in the form of finding new property for these homeowners. Help could come from federal Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery dollars, which started flowing toward new home construction projects.

Jamestown continues to repair its infrastructure with fixes scheduled for the town square, its water distribution system and replacement of a key bridge on the south side of town in 2015.

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