Decades-long project aiming to lift up Floyd County town

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Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 10:28 PM EDT
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MARTIN, Ky. (WYMT) - Floyd County officials are excited for the future as a project to lift up the Martin community- in more ways than one- continues its second phase.

The Army Corps of Engineers Martin Flood Project is working to take down the old structures in the downtown area and lift up the land to target flood concerns on the city’s Main Street.

“It was on-again-off-again, due to funding, de-funding, not enough funding in Washington D.C.,” said Floyd County Judge-Executive Robbie Williams. “So, what we thought was going to be a five, six, seven-year project has now turned into a 30-year project.”

The first phase of the project planted City Hall, the police and fire departments, the Floyd County School of Innovation, the senior citizens center, and the city’s housing complex onto Varia Mountain. Now, the post office, which is the only building still in use on that section of Main Street, is moving to the mountain- though officials say this building will be relocated, not rebuilt.

“The town, they’re the ones that suffered. The residents suffered. But it’s a new day,” said Williams. “Lets bring that tax base back to Martin, that the folks who live in Martin now, they will benefit from that tax base. What that does is helps them to do upgrades on their essential services: water, sewer.”

The elevated area, once finished, will be turned over to the Floyd County Fiscal Court and officials are working with the city to make plans for a commercial development site.

“That’s what we’re excited about is getting the project completed, moving forward, getting these new businesses in town and trying to turn the page here and get this town back to what it used to be,” said Williams.

Though the upgrades will provide opportunity for progress, Williams said there could be more negative impacts for the businesses and homeowners downstream from the work site. A flood wall will be built along the water on Main Street, with an accompanying green space. Though he believes it will be a great advancement for the area, it comes with challenges.

“We feel that there’s a concern that once the flood wall is built, and you’re gonna have this choke point in town, that there’s gonna be a rise in water levels and back up streams,” said Williams.

He said the Army Corps of Engineers has established a voluntary buyout program, asking those potentially impacted to apply for assessments if they are concerned about future flooding. Applications will be accepted through the end of July.

Though that concern is still alive, he said local leaders are hopeful that the new development will bring opportunity and economic development to the city.

“We are getting to the finish line and it is exciting,” he said. “We’re gonna get these new businesses in here. We’re gonna have the property ready for development. And it just creates more growth here in Floyd County.”

Phase two of the $158.6 million project is expected to be complete by March 2023.

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