GLOCESTER – Recent storm conditions, including the increase in rainfall, have led to major problems for some homeowners, especially those along a portion of Joe Sweet Road. Runoff from one of the town’s land trust properties not only causes major icing problems on the road, but also threatens to wash out driveways and damage buildings located there.
At the recent Town Council meeting, the board was apprised of the situation for which there is no easy solution, short of spending close to $240,000 to install a special drainage system. A culvert was placed under the road from the town property back in the 1980s, said Councilor Jonathan Burlingame. At the time, the property on the opposite side of the road was open land. Since then, houses have been built there, and the region has seen increased rainfall in recent years, causing the situation to become a problem.
Councilor Cheryl Greathouse explained that she had recently visited the site after being contacted by residents. She discovered pools of water, as well as excess water running down the hill at the location, in addition to the culvert runoff.
“That water was running downhill at a rapid pace,” said Greathouse. “There were actual ripples in the water. In a heavy rain that road is generally covered with water and as the temperature drops, it freezes.”
Though the Department of Public Works does a great job trying to address the problem, she added, if it is early in the morning, it can be a problem for residents who are headed out for work. Adding to the problem is the water diverted from the land trust property under the road to the opposite side, which is eroding driveways and flooding properties.
“It has created a massive ditch in there, and landed in their front yard,” Greathouse explained. “It is about two feet deep, and when there is excessive rain and snow melt, a great deal of water comes from the property from across the street into their property. It is flooding their property. It is eroding that driveway and the land and the land their garage is sitting on.”
Department of Public Works Director Gary Treml recalled the pipe being there since he started working for the town, 17 years ago. At that time, he added, there were no houses there. Excessive water running from the land at the top has also been a common occurrence in the past.
“My predecessor tried to put a catch basin in up where that water collects to try to send it the other way,” he said. “Elevations didn’t work. The only way to get rid of that water is to pipe it down the street.”
That, however, would not be an easy task, he added, and it would be costly. Catch basins would have to be added to both sides of the street, and the road repaved. Because of the ledge involved in the area, a blasting company would have to be hired to blow up areas down the side of the road before pipe could be installed. He said he has a request into a blasting company for a cost estimate.
“We try to get out there the best we can,” said Treml. “I have guys come in early and go up there. We try to scrape it. We can’t go up there with the loader and try to scrape the ice because it will rip the road up. That road is not that great. We try to sand it and salt it, try to get it to break up, try to plow it off, salt it again.”
Greathouse suggested removing or blocking the pipe so the water wouldn’t run onto the opposite side of the road.
“There are houses on the other side of the road,” responded Treml. “We are not going to dump it onto someone else’s property. I can’t take water that wasn’t going there and add it to someone else’s yard. That would be opening up a can of worms.”
When Greathouse asked it there were some immediate solution, Treml explained that there was nothing more he can do right now.
He said the proposed work plan was the solution, but it wasn’t something that could be done immediately.
“It costs money, it’s going to take time, and it’s not going to happen right now,” said Treml.
Treml added that there are multiple areas in town with similar problems to be addressed.
Town Council President William Worthy asked Treml to come up with firm numbers for the next meeting, and saying maybe the group can figure out a way to address the problem.
“It would be nice to have a concrete number,” agreed Council Vice President Stephen Arnold.