PRINCETON — Princeton City Manager Mike Webb knows that when it rains, it sometimes floods. 

That reality is, perhaps, truer on Stafford Drive than anywhere else in the community. But as the city prepares to move its entire municipal complex closer to Stafford Drive and Engineer Joe Fink works with hydrologists to dry the soggy situation, Webb talked with Princeton Rotarians recently about the progress being made as the city prepares for the move, and on the anticipation that comes with the change.

Although eager to get the city government a little closer to the heart of the city than its current Courthouse Road location, Webb said he knows even that will come with its own challenges, as the shift to the former Dean Company complex will carry the City Hall into a very busy traffic pattern.

He quoted a traffic study that tallied 15,000 cars per day on Stafford Drive.

“I always say it’s hard to turn left in this town, but that’s a good problem to have,” Webb said, standing before a series of architects’ renderings drafted by Todd Boggess, who is the architect overseeing the massive project.

The effort is so largescale that Webb said the City of Princeton could move every department it currently has under roof, double the space of everything and still have roughly 110,000 square feet available inside. 

Of course, that’s not counting any exterior playgrounds, football or softball fields, walking trails, the park, a pool or anything the city would want to keep outdoors.

Currently, most of the efforts are focused on tree removal from the property around the enormous structure that once housed the Dean Company wood veneer manufacturing plant. 

“We thought we had 100, maybe 200, trees to take down,” Webb said.

There were in excess of 400. 

And, of course, natives familiar with the area are well-acquainted with the flooding that plagues Stafford Drive and the shopping centers along the thoroughfare when Brush Creek can’t handle heavy rains, but Fink and hydrologists have mapped out a careful plan to install shored-up drainage lines on all sides of the shopping centers and the Princeton Municipal Complex, designed to deploy heavy rainfall quickly into Brush Creek and out of the city streets and parking areas. 

“We are working hard to get that fixed this month,” Webb said. “Everybody knows when it rains hard, it floods hard. I can’t stand here and say it’s never going to flood again, but what we’re doing now is going to prepare the city for the future.”

The Public Works Department and Administration will be the first city departments to move into the new complex. Others will gradually move in as their areas are complete in the new building. Exterior recreation areas are not finalized at this point, Webb said. 

The interior portions of the recreation center will expand current options by opening at least two basketball courts, bounce-house rooms, party rooms and concession areas at once. It’s possible an outdoor pool may eventually be moved onto the property, but he said the Princeton City Park is slated to remain open in its current location, with walking trails, playgrounds, disc golf and other amenities still open.

— Contact Tammie Toler at ttoler@ptonline.net