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Damaged Culvert Near Boone Mall Finally Replaced July 18; Might Help with Flooding, Though Probably Not Much

By Paul T. Choate

Correction: A prior version of this story did not clarify that the businesses’ property owners, as opposed to the business owners themselves, were the ones cited for violations. The story has been corrected below to reflect this.

Gilliam Construction Co. workers replacing the culvert on July 18. Photo by Rebecca Gitlen

July 20, 2012. On Wednesday, July 18, a portion of the damaged culvert behind the WilcoHess gas station on Blowing Rock Road was finally replaced. This could potentially help with flooding in the Boone Mall parking lot, albeit not very much.

According to Bill Bailey, Boone Planning and Inspections director, the culvert runs along the property of WilcoHess, Precision Printing and Mountaineer Barber & Styling. He added that those three businesses’ property owners are responsible for maintaing the culvert.

“I placed [the owners of the properties] in violation months ago – like last June – and the Board of Adjustments heard them in October and told them they had to [replace the damaged culvert],” said Bailey. “We gave them the opportunity to fix it and they declined to accept the opportunity, so we placed them in violation.”

Bailey later added that the business owners were not at fault for not getting the damaged culvert replaced.

An approximately 20- to 30-foot section of pipe was replaced on Wednesday. WilcoHess applied for the permit for the portion replaced. According to Bailey, there are plans to replace the same amount at the other end of the culvert.

As for how much this may help with the Boone Mall parking look flooding frequently, it is likely that there will be little noticeable difference.

Gilliam Construction Co. workers replacing the culvert on July 18. Photo by Rebecca Gitlen

Meredith Golden, Boone Mall manager, said that she hoped this new piping would help some, adding that there have been a few times when the flooding was so bad in the parking lot it almost got reached the mall doors.

Golden said she doesn’t expect it to totally fix the flooding issue but said, “Hopefully if the water can flow through there it won’t flood as quickly. If we can keep the flooding minimized that would be a huge improvement.”

Bailey said he did not know if the new piping would help very much.

“You know, the Boone Mall is a floodway and flood plain. It always has been,” said Bailey. “There are three creeks that run together right there. I mean, it’s functioning the way it’s supposed to function. They designed it to flood. The original builder designed it to do what it’s doing.”

So what can be done?

Golden said that the mall has in the past had Blue Ridge Environmental Consultants out of Wilkesboro come in to do studies on what might could be done to help with flooding.

Additionally, Bailey said Boone Mall could create the storage in a different configuration.

“They could build up their parking lot above the flood plain and put in a retaining wall, and everything below that retaining wall would flood. That way they control where the water goes,” said Bailey. “It’s something that is fairly easy to do but, you know, it costs money.”