Aldermen seek answers to ease ditch woes

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Brookhaven aldermen have asked the city’s engineering firm tosuggest some drainage ditch improvements in an effort to alleviatewater and sewage overflow problems at a Brookway Boulevardchurch.

Jim Latham, a member of Brookway Church of Christ, requested theassistance following several recent heavy rains. He said the Feb. 5rain was at least the third or fourth time there has been sewagebackup into church property, and the latest incident caused $27,000in damage.

“We had a lot of water and sewer back up into the church,”Latham said.

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Latham said a ditch makes a 90-degree west turn just north ofthe church. During heavy rains, he said it backs up andoverflows.

“Our concern is what we can do in the future to resolve theproblem,” Latham said.

Ward Five Alderman Tom Smith moved to have EngineeringAssociates examine the ditch and make suggestions to correct theproblem. The motion was unanimously approved.

“We just don’t want to be flooded again,” Latham said.

Other aldermen suggested having engineers look at all of thecity’s ditches.

“They need a major overhaul,” said Ward One Alderman DorseyCameron.

Later during Tuesday’s meeting, Street Department SuperintendentJimmy Griffin presented aldermen with maps of ditches that havebeen maintained over the years by the city. The display included15.47 miles of ditches.

“I’m not saying these belong to the city, but these are the onesI used to clean out,” Griffin said.

City ditch-cleaning efforts have been embroiled in controversyover the last year due to private property concerns. Those concernshave also impacted mosquito-spraying efforts.

Griffin said he appreciated Ward Four Alderman Bob Massengill’splan to have city-maintained ditches designated and cleaned out.The plan was included among recommendations related to the city’snew trash department services.

“We need to take these ditches one at a time and do a good job,”Griffin said about the ditch work.

Regarding mosquito spraying, Massengill said the time to startdoing that is approaching, and he suggested the city develop a planfor that activity.

Massengill, Smith and Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner wereappointed to a special committee to work with Griffin and make arecommendation to the full board. The board also approved havingStreet Department employee Billy Case, who mixes the mosquitochemicals, attend a certification class as soon as possible.

On a similar note, board members Dorsey Cameron, Mrs. Jerry L.Wilson and John E. “Buddy” Allen were named to a subcommittee toexamine ditch cleaning plans. They will work with Griffin andreport back to the board.

“We’re hoping to get started on these ditches pretty soon,”Griffin said.

Also Tuesday, aldermen approved a contract for the purchase of40.19 acres of land, known at the Fender property, near theindustrial park. The city will pay $125,000 of the $241,140purchase price and the Industrial Development Foundation will paythe remainder.

Chamber of commerce Executive Vice-president Chandler Russ askedto board to obtain engineering documents related to the Sola Fide’splanned warehouse operation on five acres of the Fender property.Russ said the documents are needed to move forward on bids for the20,000 square feet building.

“Our client is ready to go,” Russ said.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said he would speak with EngineeringAssociates officials Wednesday regarding the needed paperwork.

Bumgarner suggested the city get a new engineer for the projectif Engineering Associates cannot. Massengill agreed withBumgarner.

”If we can’t get them on it, we need to move elsewhereimmediately,” Massengill said.

In other business, the board approved a property lease to PaulBarnett, chairman of the airport advisory board, for him to build anew hangar at the airport. The move involves the transfer of alease held by Jim Duncan and Barnett’s plans to build a new hangar,which would revert to the city at the end of the 25-year leaseperiod.

“We are really strapped for hangar space,” Barnett said.