NEWTON — There is some good news when looking at the condition of Harvey County West Park following multiple rounds of flooding this spring — areas of the Little Arkansas River banks repaired by the county last year remain intact.
“The area that road and bridge reinforced has held,” said parks director Cass Miller. ”But we have four, five or six different areas along the river, in the park, that are starting to break away and collapse into the river.”
The reinforced area is on the north side of the park, near the entrance. About 700 tons of rock were placed on the bank, and wall a constructed from sheet piling.
“The rock held like we expected, but it is starting to erode where we did not put in rock,” said county administrator Anthony Swartzendruber. “This area will have to have some attention at some point.”
Placing barricades along the main roadway into the park was discussed with the county commission this week as three rounds of flooding have taken their toll.
The riverbanks have collapsed to the point of affecting the roadway. Parks staff has contacted FEMA to see if there might be funding under an emergency declaration signed by President Donald Trump last month.
“Rivers have been changing their course for hundreds of years and man is not going to stop it,” said Harvey County Commissioner Randy Hague.
It is not known what the repairs may cost. Last year, when the repair project was bid, all the bids came in above estimates. The road and bridge department then did the work during the winter months.
“It is impossible to stop Mother Nature,” Miller said. “Water is going to go where it wants to go.”
Miller said the options are to repair the bank to “beat Mother Nature,” or to move the park road and “hope for the best.”
In addition to the issues near the road on the north side of the park, an estimated 100 feet of the bank have eroded in the southern part of the park.
There are areas that people will need to stay away from, as the Parks Department and county staff assess what action to take. There is not currently an estimate as to what repairs may cost. At this time, the park will remain open, as the road is passable.