A wall will guard the library -- Lord willing and the creek don't rise.
POLAND -- A retaining wall will go up this summer behind the library here, and if patrons are lucky it will happen before Yellow Creek rises again.
The Board of Trustees of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County will advertise for bids to build a poured-concrete wall that would follow the curve of the creek from Main Street Bridge along the side of the library.
Strenn Consulting Group of Youngstown is finishing the specifications for a water barrier the board hopes will keep dry the basement of the facility, built in 2001 for $6.5 million.
Contractors will build the new wall just behind and a little higher than the course of decorative stone that follows the creek, library spokeswoman Janet S. Loew said Friday.
"They're going to design it so it can be expanded upward if the need arises," she said.
The wall will follow the narrowest part of the creek, where the flooding is most serious, said Loew, who didn't have an estimate of the cost.
The site of the new library is well above the level the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projected for a once-in-100-years flood. But as Poland Mayor Ruth Wilkes noted, the creek has spread beyond that 100-year mark three times in recent years.
Creek waters sometimes seep into the lower levels of the building, notably in August when runoff from rains spawned by Hurricane Frances trickled in.
Librarians had to close the building for a day, while crews extracted several inches of water and disinfected the carpet. That cost $2,500, not counting the price of advice from environmental technicians on preventing mold from forming.
All the books are on upper levels of the structure so none was damaged, but the water ruined baseboards where it leaked in.
In September, Community Corrections Association workers built a levee using some 2,000 sandbags, which will remain in place until the retain wall is finished.
A consultant the library board hired for $3,700 recommended the wall or excavation of a new flood plain 200 feet long and as far as 45 feet back from the creek across from the library. Someone else owns the land so the board decided against that option.
Wilkes appointed a special study panel to determine the cause of the broader Yellow Creek flooding problem and recommend solutions. It began its work this week and meets next at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Village Hall.
Poland is at the lower end of the 40-mile-long watershed, and the mayor's Storm Water Advisory Team expects to try to engage upstream communities in the search for ways to alleviate flooding.
Among other problems, the more frequent overflows of the creek endanger a field of bluebell wildflowers in the Poland Municipal Forest. The moving water washes away leaves and topsoil the plants, a prized natural resource in the village and beyond, need to survive.