Clive city officials expect to learn within the next two months whether the federal government has approved a grant to help pay for the purchase of three properties near Northwest 78th Street and University Boulevard.

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will also help pay for the demolition of properties at 7811 and 7827 University Blvd. and 1260 N.W. 78th St. The properties on University Boulevard had housed University Photo, which has moved to 7128 University Ave. in Windsor Heights; the property on Northwest 78th Street is a house.  

Much of the 80-acre area along and near University Boulevard -- roughly between Northwest 75th and Northwest 81st  streets -- has been inundated with floodwaters four times in the past 10 years, the most recent a flash flood on June 30. In 2018, Clive allocated $1.25 million to buy several flood-prone properties along Northwest 75th and Northwest 78th streets. Five purchases are complete; a sixth is in the process of being completed. 

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency approves Clive’s grant request, the three additional properties would be acquired this year and buildings on the land torn down, said Pete De Kock, Clive’s assistant city manager. 

Clive’s flood buyout program is voluntary.

Several people from Clive, including De Kock, are traveling to Washington, D.C., this week as part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s annual trip to meet with members of the Iowa congressional delegation and other federal officials. Among issues Clive officials plan to discuss with the Iowa delegation is the importance of continuing both the Hazard Mitigation Grants and the federal flood insurance program, De Kock said.

Clive officials’ message is that “the right path forward is to move people and property out of harm’s way, but we need federal help to get it done,” De Kock said.

Clive officials are mulling an additional phase of the voluntary flood buyout program that would include buying properties at 7840, 7900 and 8000 University Ave. The city’s share of the estimated $2.75 million buyout is $700,000, city documents show. The parcels include Acheson Auto Works, whose owners have indicated they were interested in a possible buyout during the initial round of city purchases, De Kock said.

The properties were built “before the current reality about flood events was known,” De Kock said.

Fifty-six properties are located in the 80-acre area prone to flooding from Walnut Creek, De Kock said. He estimated it would take more than 10 years for the city, with help from the federal government, to buy all the properties. Among those properties is the Wittern Group, a vending machine supplier at 8040 University Blvd.

“We don’t want to lose Wittern,” De Kock said. However, “the past reality [regarding flooding] and the reality now are different, and there’s the potential for even greater flood risk to Wittern and other businesses in the future.”

As properties are purchased, De Kock said the land could be used for green space, parks or trail accesses. In addition, properties purchased with just city money could be redeveloped with the use of proper flood-mitigation techniques, he said.

Here is a link to information on Clive’s website about the city’s Flood Prone Property Buyout Program. The information begins on Page 109.