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Oswego Council To Consider Culvert Work

OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting this week, the Administrative Services Committee recommended turning a “lake” back into a “pond.”

Tony Leotta, city engineer, and Mike Smith, DPW commissioner, requested the purchasing agent seek proposals to clean out the culvert, beneath the approach to East Seneca Street Bridge to correct the flooding problem.

The existing 24-inch diameter culvert under the easterly approach to the East Seneca Street bridge is plugged and is creating a large “lake” on the Thomas property between Route 104 and East Seneca Street adjacent to the CSX Railroad, Leotta said.

The water is now overflowing onto the railroad and nearby Holbrook properties, he added.

“It is necessary that the culvert be unplugged and cleaned out so that the pond level is lowered to the point that it properly acts as a reservoir for the stormwater runoff,” the engineer told the committee. “The stormwater detention pond has become a lake. It’s filled right up to the top and is overflowing.”

The last time Leotta observed that culvert was in 1979 with former commissioner of works Avery Johnson.

“At that time, it was flowing. In the last seven, eight years it has become restricted to the point where now it is completely plugged,” he said. “It needs to be lowered from a ‘lake’ into a ‘pond.’”

Stormwater from Route 104 also flows into it now as does Oswego Plaza, the P&C Plaza.

“At the time I went down there, you could actually see it overflowing,” Second Ward Councilor Mike Myers added. “It’s getting into people’s personal property and I’m thinking before the city ends up with a big bill, to fix some things, it’s critical that we get this done ASAP. With all the rain that we’ve had, we need to start doing something now.”

Cleaning it out might be “beyond our scope,” DPW Commissioner Mike Smith noted.

“The culvert itself must be, if I had to take a guess, five or six feet under water easily,” he said. “That’s something we’re probably not going to be able to handle.”

They are just asking to get some proposals, he told the committee.

Council President Ron Kaplewicz accompanied Councilor Myers to the site.

“It was rather destructive what was going on. I would encourage us to understand the entire dynamics of that whole drainage area. I understand that there is an aqueduct that actually drains along that area over by the old Hammermill that you can’t see but you can hear it,” he said.

“I was listening to it the other day,” Smith said.

“So there is a lot more to this drainage area and the release of this water potentially than just that culvert. Immediately, I think the culvert cleaning is going to help resolve some issues. But we need to understand what’s going on beyond that, too,” Kaplewicz said.

The level of the pond has to be controlled, Leotta explained.

Once the culvert is cleared, they might also have to install a “beaver deceiver” to keep the critters away from it before they cause a new problem, Leotta said.

“I agree. We need to do something here and we need to do it soon,” the council president agreed. “If we get another big gully washer, we’re going to be in big trouble.”

The proposal was sent to the full council for consideration on Monday night.