Board backs proposals to clean ditches

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 12, 2004

Brookhaven officials are promising an aggressive approach incleaning out city drainage ditches this year.

Aldermen last week adopted several subcommittee recommendationsregarding city ditches and maintenance.

“We came up with some ideas to help take care of our majorditches,” said Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron, a member of thesubcommittee along with Ward Three Alderwoman Mrs. Jerry L. Wilsonand Ward Six Alderman John E. “Buddy” Allen.

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The board adopted a map identifying major city drainage ditches.Cameron said there are approximately 17 ditches, which the city hasmaintained, although that activity has been less in recentyears.

“Our ditches have been neglected for several years,” saidCameron, citing questions that have arisen about the authority forcity crews to go onto private property.

Cameron said Street Department Superintendent Jimmy Griffin haddone a good job of identifying city-maintained ditches. Thesubcommittee recommendation authorizes Griffin’s department toconduct ditch maintenance on a regular basis.

“It’s going to be a big job to start with. A lot of our ditchesare overgrown,” said Cameron, mentioning some instances of floodingresulting from stopped up drainage ways.

The board approved the hiring of some part-time summeremployment of teenage workers to help with ditch maintenance.Aldermen also raised the possibility of seeking help from theLincoln County Jail inmate work crew.

“It would be fairly cheap help,” said Ward Five Alderman TomSmith.

Regarding private property issues, the adopted recommendationsstate that the city will not be responsible for ditches on privateproperty.

There is, however, a provision for handling smaller ditches on acase by case basis. Cameron indicated that would only be in casesof addressing erosion concerns and would have to be authorized bythe board of aldermen.

“We’re not going to go onto private property to clean ditches,”Cameron said. “We’re not out to break the law, and we’re not goingto do that.”

The subcommittee also recommended asking for the public’s helpin keeping ditches clean. Private landowners were encouraged toclean debris, trash, limbs and leaves so that ditches can remainopen and water can flow unhindered.

Cameron was optimistic that landowners would be cooperative. Hesaid the percentage of helpful homeowners likely would not be 100percent, but some will be cooperative.

“Some are going to put a good effort forward to do what they canto help,” Cameron said.