Bowman Avenue property owners expressed concerns about flooding to the Cleveland City Council during a meeting Monday.
Resident Cindy Finnell said she had been working to fix flooding issues for the past five years. She showed the Council pictures documenting a flooded backyard where a decorative iron chair is partially submerged.
“I have been told that the natural water flow has been changed, so now I have 17 people’s water [runoff] coming into my backyard,” Finnell said. “When it rains there is absolutely no backyard.”
The Council passed a motion by Councilman At-Large Richard Banks to install new pipes to address the issue on Bowman Avenue which should allow stormwater runoff to flow naturally near Centenary Avenue.
The Council previously set money aside for the project. However, a property owner on Centenary Avenue who does not wish to grant an easement for the project has kept it from progressing.
The natural flow of water out of a pipe in the area would wind up on Centenary Avenue property. The pipe would end before this property because the homeowner does not want to grant an easement. Why the property owner did not want to participate in the project was unknown.
Public Works director Tommy Myers said he would not be able to put in a larger pipe because of the volume of water. The suggestion of using two smaller pipes was made.
“Keep in mind that is increasing the amount of water down there at the other end,” Myers said.
Myers said he would take the new pipe toward a ditch in the area to return the water to its natural flow.
Banks said this issue was different than many of the similar concerns brought by residents.
“There is a little history behind this because Mrs. Finnell and the others are getting all of the 8th Street water. The city did go in the past and put a pipe in next to her property, taking 8th street water from her property. ... We did in years past change the natural flow, and that’s what has caused the problem and that’s what makes this different from all these other people with their flooding issues,” Banks said.
Water rushes to a grate in Finnell’s yard and the water becomes forceful and deep, she said.
“It’s getting deeper and deeper every year. It’s taking away my soil,” Finnell said. “My front yard used to never flood; now its flooding.”
Finnell said she is concerned for pets or young children in the area.
Bowman Avenue property owner Scott Kanavos said concrete tiles in the area have begun to fail.
“When I did the renovation on my backyard ... at my own expense ... I laid this rubberized tile,” Kanavos said.
He said he thought replacing the concrete tile with rubberized tile would solve the problem.
Flooding on Bowman Avenue is said to be caused by water flowing from 8th Street. The rush of water into a catch basin near the Finnell property keeps water from draining.
“Water just bubbles out of it,” Myers said. “Putting new pipe in here would definitely help, but would it be the ideal solution? Probably not.”
The ideal solution would to be put in new pipe and another catch basin.
Adding the pipe could also address water issues on 8th Street.
Councilman At-large George Poe asked if installing the pipe to control water for Bowman Avenue residents would also solve water issues for Centenary Avenue. Myers said a new catch basin would be installed in the area as part of the project. He said he would start the project at the lowest end.
A more complete fix could be implemented if the holdout property owner on Centenary consented.
Councilman Bill Estes said the Council needs to show the property owner that participating in the project would help his property values, also. He asked that the Council send a letter to the property owner.
Estes also mentioned visiting the homeowner to talk with him personally about the issue.
Using eminent domain to secure the needed right of ways was also discussed.
Banks said he did not want to set a precedent for eminent domain, if it is possible to avoid it.
Estes said he is in favor of using eminent domain if there is no other option.
Kanavos encouraged the Council to have “political courage” and use eminent domain to solve the problem.
“All the other citizens involved have agreed to move the project forward. You have one person at the end of it who ... has said ‘no,’” Kanavos said.
Moving a utility pole from in front of a downtown building was also discussed. Owner Tim Arthur said the utility pole blocks the entrance to the building. The pole provides the power to the intersection light.
Ken Webb of Cleveland Utilities said it was “an expensive intersection to be reworking.”
Costs to move the pole have been estimated at $8,500, according to Webb. Webb said Cleveland Utilities could do the work, but the property owner would be required to reimburse the company.
Vice mayor Avery Johnson said he would like the Council to help the property owner pay for the project.
“This building has been vacant for 30 years. It’s located downtown ... we need to be doing all we can to revitalize that whole area; $8,500 is pretty expensive for someone who is trying to make a difference,” Johnson said. “I just think we need to do something to be able to help him with the cost of moving this pole.”
Arthur said he is considering turning the building into apartments.
Johnson said he would like the Council to agree to covering at least half of the cost. Webb said a survey is needed to determine if the pole is in the road right of way.
Webb also advised that the Council have an accurate cost of the project before making a decision.
The issue was delayed so more information could be available at the time of the vote.