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Burlington Seeks FEMA Money

Jul 9, 2013

Burlington Memorial Auditorium

Burlington is seeking federal help in protecting several downtown properties from flooding.

City Manager Jim Ferneau says the city has already applied for $850,000 from FEMA via the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

He says the city would use the money to protect Memorial Auditorium and a nearby sewer plant when the Mississippi River rises.

"(We are) looking at a permanent concrete structure around the (sewer) lift station," says Ferneau, "and then have a retractable floodwall installed around the auditorium."

Ferneau says the retractable barrier around the auditorium would be much easier to install than the large barricades currently used for protection.

He says the city would have to provide $150,000 as a local match if the grant is approved.

The money is available because of severe weather and flooding occurring in Iowa earlier this year.


Burlington is looking into having an outside firm manage one of its facilities.

The city's public works department currently oversees Memorial Auditorium, including property maintenance and event booking.

Ferneau says an upcoming restructuring of the department means this is the time to look at different options for the riverfront property.

"The primary thing that I am concerned about is that we have the right structure in place to make the best use of that facility possible," says Ferneau.

Ferneau says the city contacted six regional and national management firms, with two expressing enough interest to tour the building.

He says management proposals will be reviewed by a special committee.

That panel could present a recommendation to the full city council as early as next month.