NORTH CANTON  Residents living next to the Zimber Ditch one either side of Glenwood Street in North Canton could see the last of the original 19 homes damaged by floods be demolished by the time winter starts. 

Stark Parks has received a fifth round of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will be used to demolish five of the remaining flood-prone homes in that area. 

Sarah Buell, project manager at Stark Parks, said that the latest grant for $767,323 will bring relief to home owners that have lost so much in the floods that have occurred in the area over the past several years. 

“These home owners have not only had their homes and belongings damaged by past flooding, they live in constant worry about it happening again,” Buell said. “Many won’t leave their homes for vacation because they want to be there in case there is another flood. We got the original grant in 2013 to start demolishing the homes in that area. This round of funding will allow us to remove the last five of the original 19 homes."

Buell said the process is lengthy and involves getting the homes appraised, making the homeowners an offer and closing on the properties. After the home is taken down, the land will be restricted as a flood plain so that nothing can be built on it in the future. Returning it to flood plain will allow the area to flood naturally.  

Stark Parks plans to level out the ground at each site and let the ground settle before doing some landscaping. For now, Stark Parks plans to keep the sites as green space. 

“While these five homes are the last of the original group, there’s always the possibility there could be more in the future. Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-48th District) and the city of North Canton will continue to call public meetings to identify homeowners that may be a good fit for the grant funding,” Buell said. 

Partners providing the match for the project include the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, the city of North Canton and Stark County Commissioners. Assistance from local legislators, including Schuring, has also been a help in funding the purchase and removal of homes in the floodplain.