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Oswego Council Committee Tables Flood Fix Proposal

OSWEGO, NY -  The Administrative Services Committee voted unanimously Monday night to table a resolution regarding a proposal to correct a “serious flooding” problem in the Seventh Ward after no one could agree on who was responsible for paying for the work.

Tony Leotta, city engineer, requested authorization for the purchasing agent to seek proposals from local licensed surveyors for preparation of easement documents in order to install a new 24-inch diameter storm sewer from the catchbasin on Windsong Avenue to Koberg Pond, on easement, crossing the Shanley property.

There is a serious drainage problem causing flooding of the Stephen and Linda Poydock property (539 W. Fifth St.), Leotta said.

The old Kingsford farm stone storm sewer, which conveys drainage from Mark Fitzgibbons Drive to Gardenier swamp, has become restricted and no longer operates effectively to drain the area during spring runoff or severe storm events, he explained.

“Consequently, storm water from the 100 plus year old stone sewer overflows onto the Poydock property. The stone sewer can’t be cleaned because it has an earth bottom and its route is quite lengthy over several properties,” according to committee chair Seventh Ward Councilor Ron Kaplewicz.

There is an existing 24-inch storm drain behind the Poydock property which was installed as part of the Trillium Subdivision development in 1986, including Windsong Avenue, he continued.

That drain connects to a catchbasin in Windsong which discharges into Koberg Pond through an existing open swale and under-sized 12-inch culvert pipe crossing the Shanley property, the city engineer explained.

Neither the swale nor pipe is large enough to carry the overflow away from the Poydock property, he added.

“This is an issue that has become more and more severe over the last several years. There are several properties that are affected by the drainage issue,” Kaplewicz said.

The flooding is at its worst after a heavy rain and the spring run off, Poydock told the committee.  Water just comes “boiling out” of a neighboring well and then that whole swale begins to fill because it doesn’t have a chance to drain over to Koberg Pond.

Kaplewicz agreed, adding that he has “literally seen the water lapping on the back steps of the home.

“We propose a new 24-inch storm sewer from the catchbasin on Windsong to Koberg Pond, on easement, crossing the Shanley property,” Leotta said. “I have communicated with Mr. Shanley and he endorses the proposal.”

Kaplewicz said the problem can be traced back to the mid-1980s and is the result of a cost-saving measure the city made regarding the Trillium subdivision.

The existing catchbasin was never connected to Koberg Pond because the old Kingsford farm storm sewer was draining the area properly.

However, now it has become restricted and is backing up.

“We’re at the point now where if we don’t do something, we’re going to have some serious property damage, the chairman said.

First Ward Councilor Connie Cosemento said the city needs to do better due diligence regarding site plans for projects such as this.

“I’ve seen it happen too many times,” she said of such problems.

The land, she continued, wasn’t developed by the city.

“I would say I have to agree with Mrs. Cosemento. It’s not the responsibility of the taxpayers of Oswego to fix private property issues unless it is a direct result or liability to the city. I don’t see how the private developer that built Trillium Gardens and all of that caused this flooding problem now makes it a taxpayer problem when it solely affects private property,” said Sixth Ward Councilor Bill Sharkey.

“I think there is a combination of issues at work here,” Kaplewicz replied. “With the history of the area and the old underground drainage of the Kingsford farm, with the middle school and all the construction that was done there installing storm and sanitary sewers and the easements that were taken across private lands, Trillium Gardens was a development that was done and it was done at the expense of the developer. The city certainly had a responsibility and obligation to install storm water and sanitary water lines there and that was done. The design was done at the convenience of the city in a way that would be cost-effective. Certainly the city has a large expense in that, but certainly the city collects taxes on those properties. In this particular case, I do believe the city has an obligation and responsibility to fix the problem. We were engaged with this back in the ‘80s, we didn’t finish our job. The only piece of the puzzle that wasn’t finished was the connection between the 24-inch line put in Windsong and outlet to Koberg Pond. That was the plan; they did it to save money.”

Sharkey and Cosemento pressed Kaplewicz for more information.

“Before spending any taxpayer money on the project,” Sharkey said he wants to know more about the problem, including who is responsible to pay for the work.

“I have a few more questions. And, I’ll say it again, I don’t want to see anybody get flooded, but I need to know answers,” Cosemento said, moving to table the matter.

Committee members Cosemento, Sharkey and Third Ward Councilor Cathy Santos voted yes to table; and so did Kaplewicz.

He said he would leave site plans and other data from the 1986 development of Trillium Gardens in the Council Office at City Hall for all the aldermen to review.

The issue will possibly be revisited at the April 18 committee meeting.

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