Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Storm Drainage on Oak Leaf Drive

by Lee Jamison

Anyone who lives in Stuyvesant's Oak Leaf Drive development, or who has friends who live in Oak Leaf Drive or who, maybe, ever went campaigning door-to-door knows that the most critical issue on homeowners minds is storm water drainage. The houses look comfortable, modest, tidy and pretty but a sharper eye soon sees signs of run-off problems.

Some of you think, after years of no formal response from the Town, that there is nothing that can be done. Some have watched repaving by the Highway Department and felt the flooding only got worse. Many have spent thousands of dollars fixing water damage to their homes. Others wonder if they can ever sell their homes. Others fear losing their homes. Some say they are ready to sue the Town.

Some folks came to a Town Board Meeting looking to air fears that their house was actually washing down the hill. A Town Official responded, "It's not my fault that water runs down hill!"

At this same meeting the Town Attorney, Tal Rappleyea declined to speak to these homeowners, stating that if they were threatening to sue the Town, then the discussion needed to be between the lawyers.

Tal did give some informal history on the issue, stating that the original developer never gave easements for ditches to the Town. So, the Town assumed responsibility for paving and plowing Oak Leaf Drive but was not able to create drainage. Tal felt the homeowners had two choices:
1. Sign easements and the Town would do drainage ditches
2. Create your own management district, hire an engineer and contract for their own drainage---at your expense

I spoke to a neighboring town with a similar problem in a development. That Town initially tried to help homeowners with drainage via the highway department working with general funds. They discovered they could access grant money and bonds by establishing a Water Drainage District. To date they have funds for the design phase and now have a design in hand. They are moving forward. The Soil and Water Conservation Office in Ghent offers information on ideas a homeowner can use for do-it yourself remediation such as porous pavers and rain garden catchment landscaping. They have on site examples in Ghent and Lee has successfully used the parking area paver idea at her house.

With some 40 homes, Oak Leaf represents over 5% of Stuyvesant's housing stock. We can't afford to let these properties deteriorate by doing nothing for another 25 years.

Stuyvesant deserves a Town Board that will finally take leadership on this issue.

Stuyvesant deserves a Town Board that helps people keep their home. Common sense?

Vote for Lee , Mark, Michelle, Nancy, Mike and Bill on the Democratic and CommonSense line.

We're already working for you!