Residents of Meadow Brook Manor, Hillside Circle and Hillside Court came out in force at Monday night’s Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting to request relief from the town from regular flooding that has plagued their neighborhood for decades.
In the wake of two notable storms this summer and an unusually wet start to autumn, some 128 residents urged the town to find a way to address the issue and for town crews to be more proactive in assisting residents during flooding situations.
“We believe that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure there is adequate infrastructure to ensure the health and safety of the taxpayers and their properties,” Hillside Circle resident Will Meikle said. “The storm drain system is inadequate and has not been properly maintained and cleaned, leading to continual flooding of residences and roads.”
According to Meikle, the flooding compromises the neighborhood’s drinking water, creates an unclean septic situation and has caused thousands of dollars in damage to homes, driveways and vehicles.
“During the flood after , neighborhood children walked through the flood water that had run through septic systems to get to the school bus,” he said. “There is only one way in and out of the neighborhood. With roads impassible… there is the potential for a life-threatening situation if ambulances or fire trucks were delayed getting through.”
Hillside Circle resident Mike Mascola said during the last flooding incident, he and his two children had to unclog the storm drain near their house while town crews looked on.
“It has brought me so much rage that my 13-year-old and 12-year-old were standing in the street with rakes so one [storm drain] could continue to drain,” he said, “For town workers to watch me and tell me they [the pipelines] can’t handle the water, then to watch me clean out that drain.”
Mascola said that crews have told residents that it is a capacity problem, however “it’s not the volume” that creates immediate difficulty, he said, “It’s the clog in my drain because once I free it, it recedes.”
“I’m not saying there’s not inadequate draining,” he added, stating that that is one of the principle problems as well.
First Selectman Bill Davidson and Public Works Director Ralph Tedesco reviewed the situation in that neighborhood and found a set of engineering maps drawn in 2000 to solve the problem, however at that time there were issues with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), now the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“Eventually, when you pipe the water out it has to go somewhere,” Davidson explained. “In this case, it was going to a property controlled by the DEP and they refused to give the town a discharge permit.”
In an attempt to find a solution, “We’re going to start at the end of the pipe to make sure we have somewhere to put this water and then work back,” he said, adding that the “neighborhood situation is appalling.”
Selectman Steve O’Reilly agreed that the situation “should be given a high priority.”
“We can’t promise that it would be solved before Christmas but I would hope we have a plan in place by then,” Selectman Howard Lasser said, asking the BOS to “figure out some kind of pro-forma for how much this is going to cost so that we can get some approvals tentative so that when we do have some engineering we can move quickly.”
According to Tedesco, the engineering plan drawn up a decade ago projected the cost between $600,000 and $700,000. Today, that cost would be “north of $1 million.”
“We are very frustrated,” said Hillside Circle resident Donna Sedlack, who has been dealing with this issue for 27 years. “I have missed many days of work, lost two vehicles… At this point, the system is so old we’re hoping that a concerted effort can be made.”
“It is not a request — we need this to be rectified,” she added. “We’re here as a community because we feel that we matter too.”
“You have our attention,” Davidson said. “It won’t be a quick fix but there needs to be a fix.”