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Angel Construction employees work to make a retention pond behind the former Pikeville Elementary School at city hall. The retention pond was necessary because of basement flooding in a wetter than normal season.

On recent — and rare — days when there's no rainfall, the crew with Angel Brothers Construction in Pikeville, Tennessee, can actually make headway on a retention pond project behind Pikeville City Hall, which aims to help with flooding problems around the municipal building and its neighbors.

Ironically, it's the water that's delaying the project.

Pikeville Mayor Phil "Winky" Cagle said the weather has been unkind to outdoor work.

By the numbers

Length: 250 feet

Width: 60 feet

Depth: 8 feet

Capacity: 900,000 gallons

Source: Hussey Gay Bell

"This thing has absolutely been a pain," Cagle said. "It's just the rainiest winter we've had in years."

The retention pond project is behind Pikeville City Hall, where city offices were moved in recent years from City Hall Street to the former Pikeville Elementary School building on Main Street. The project area is sandwiched between Main Street, residential property, the city hall building and a parking lot.

The building has a basement that floods when it rains, and the goal, besides protecting the city building, is to get the water to flow away from city hall into the pond without any of the runoff ending up on neighbors' property, construction officials said. Once the water reaches 8 feet deep, or just less than 900,000 gallons, a pump begins sending it into the town's drainage system.

"They [Angel Construction] said if they could just get one good dry week, then they can finish it up," Cagle said last week. "It'll be beautiful when it's done."

That hasn't happened, the mayor said Thursday. "They haven't been able to work a single day," he said.

According to the National Weather Service, the next dry work days might come Monday and Tuesday, but rain still looms in the forecast for later in the week.

Engineer Robert Stigall, with project designer Nashville-based Hussey Gay Bell, said the weather is hampering all outside projects, including the retention pond work.

Stigall said he visited the project recently and the pond is already doing its job.

The pond's basin is actually complete, as far as storing water goes, Stigall said, but there's still some more fill work and landscaping to finish. Erosion control blankets are holding the soil where it's supposed to be and keeping grass seed in place till it sprouts.

"The idea is to keep the water away from the building and off of adjacent properties — so I guess as far as that goes unless somebody's aware of something I'm not — I'd say mission accomplished," Stigall said. "But to make it look nice, we've still got some grading work to do on one side of the pond and some miscellaneous pipe work to get the downspouts and gutters tied into the pond."

Stigall, who was a little more conservative on the timeline than the mayor, said he believes the project could be finished in 10-15 dry working days.

"By March, it'll look much greener and prettier out there than what it does now," he said. "It just needs to dry up so we can finish up."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.

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