By: Tara Blue
On Nov. 15th, the Journal published an article titled “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”. This follow-up is for the purpose of retracting allegations that were made about Mr. VandeVoorde in the above-stated article. Additional information was discovered after further investigating the circumstances surrounding the 401 Billy Joe Sapp Project, and we offer a more comprehensive account of the project in this article.
1. VandeVoorde disputes the accusation that he applied for the position with the City of Ashland for the sole purpose of influencing the approval of the 401 Billy Joe Sapp stormwater project.
VandeVoorde says that before he accepted the position in Ashland, he was employed by Jefferson City as a Plan Reviewer/Mechanical Inspector and Interim Building Official. VandeVoorde says that after another candidate was chosen as the permanent Building Official, he was hired as the Plan Reviewer/Building Inspector for the City of Ashland. After working for Ashland for one year, VandeVoorde says Jefferson City opened a full-time Mechanical Inspector position, which better suited his needs and experience. He applied for and was offered the job. VandeVoorde says it offered better pay and benefits, and more flexibility with work/family schedule, and says this was the main factor in his decision to only work for the City of Ashland for one year.
2. The City of Ashland was already budgeting for the Billy Joe Sapp Stormwater Project in their Capital Improvement Plan before VandeVoorde began working for the city, so the project would have happened regardless of the fact of his being employed with the city.
The project was planned before VandeVoorde was hired in October 2020 but was stalled over the years before being officially approved by the city. In April of 2020, the Board of Aldermen approved Council Bill 2020-015, an ordinance adopting the Fiscal Year 2021 Capital Improvement Plan, which lists the short-term and long-term major projects each department wants to complete.
The Billy Joe Sapp Project was the first project listed under the stormwater section, meaning the city was planning to fix the stormwater issues before VandeVoorde was hired.
Since the project was complete, VandeVoorde says the project has achieved its goal in eliminating the stormwater flooding, and he is not the only impacted homeowner who is satisfied with the results.
Mr. Brian Sapp, VandeVoorde’s neighbor to the southeast, says the project was an enormous improvement to the stormwater flooding which occurred between his and VandeVoorde’s yard. Sapp says that before the project, there was a stormwater pipe which protruded from the hill behind his and VandeVoorde’s backyard, and it discharged stormwater runoff from the West Oaks subdivision.
Sapp says the existing stormwater drain on the street between the two homes did not have the capacity to divert the runoff fast enough and would often create a stream two feet deep which would backflow into his and VandeVoorde’s yard.
Sapp reports that they have not had a “single drop” flow through their yards since the project was complete, and when he asked public works to fill in the holes that were caused by the soil settling, he says the public works crew came out and filled them in a timely manner.