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City ditches get workers’ attention

A drainage ditch running along Halbert Heights Road has receivedsome attention by the city this month.

“We’re just trying to get it opened up so water will flow out ofthere,” said Ward Five Alderman Tom Smith.

Jenny Scott, who lives at the intersection of Halbert HeightsRoad and Avenue A, said she was very appreciative of the alderman’sefforts.

“I really do appreciate it,” she said. “It’s scary wheneveryou’ve flooded once and there is a very real potential of itoccurring again.”

Scott’s home flooded at the beginning of February when thecounty received more than 10 inches of rain in a day. A few dayslater, another heavy torrent of rain threatened the houseagain.

“I called them because I was scared we were about to flood againand they came out in the rain to look at the problem,” Scottsaid.

Smith said the people who live on the road have been verysupportive of the work crews and there have been no complaintsabout the work.

“I just appreciate the people working with the city and myself,”he said. “All it takes is one person not to allow us to do our workand the project is worthless.”

One bad area of a drainage ditch is enough to cause futureblockages and flooding, he said.

Work crews have been cleaning out the ditch when they had timeaway from other larger and “more pressing” projects, Smith said. Hecould not say when the project would be completed for thatreason.

“We’ll keep working on it as we can,” Smith said.

Scott said she is pleased with the progress so far.

“They tried to clean out the lower part of it so that it woulddrain good. They got the major part so it would flow better rightaway, and are now cleaning out the rest as they can,” she said.

A second, larger ditch in that runs parallel to Avenue A in theHalbert Heights area has not been cleaned, Smith said. He alsocould not say whether city crews would be working on that ditch inthe future.

“All I can tell you about that is that there is a committee ofthree aldermen on that now. I’m not on that committee,” hesaid.

The larger ditch has prompted some complaints from Avenue Aresidents, whose homes were also threatened with rising water inearly February.

Teresa Walls said flood waters then damaged a fence, two outdoorstorage sheds, and nearly entered her home.

Walls has been the most vocal in a group of Avenue A residentswho want the city to clean the ditch.

Until two years ago the city did clean the ditch, Mayor BillGodbold admitted during a board meeting in late 2003. Herecommended the city begin cleaning it again.

Ditch cleaning, however, has become embroiled in a quagmire oflegalities surrounding the city’s ability to perform certainservices on private property, and in the determination of drainageditches as private or public property.

A committee of aldermen was formed to sort through thoselegalities and make their recommendation to the board at a laterdate.