Residents plead with city officials to address longstanding drainage issues plaguing Craig neighborhood
Seven residents who live on Birch Street in the Woodbury subdivision gathered before Craig City Council last month to draw attention to ongoing flooding that is occurring in their neighborhood.
The residents came equipped with several photos from last year showing groundwater backed up into the streets, driveways and garages along Birch Street, and they blamed the problem on a lack of drainage in the area.
Mary Blakeman, one of the Birch Street residents, told city officials there is only one curb drain from Subway to Woodbury Park, leaving the drainage, which comes from U.S. Highway 40 onto Woodbury Drive and splits down Birch and Apple Street, a long way to go before it can get to the drain.
Though the spring snowmelt aggravates the drainage issues, Birch Street resident Tyler Seislove said it is not just a winter issue. He also presented a video of rainwater pooling from driveways on Birch Street into the middle of the street after a brief summer storm.
“There is nothing we can physically do to fix this problem on our property ourselves,“ Seislove said after describing measures Birch residents take each year, including shoveling snow away from the curbs and drains along the street and building barriers to their driveways and homes to prevent water from flooding in.
“We have purchased flood insurance to protect our garage and first floor of our home in case nothing gets done about this,” Seislove said.
According to Seislove, the drainage issue was brought before City Council in 2018 and 2019. At that time, the city’s response was to repair and replace the curb and gutters along Birch Street, but residents say those efforts did not solve the problem.
“We saw a different version of these photos four years ago,” Council member Derek Duran said. “And now you’re back, and I’m sorry that you’re back. The long-term solution is obviously storm drains, I would think.”
City officials said that cleaning the gutters more frequently in the winter and keeping other residents in the subdivision from shoveling snow into the street could help, but that won’t provide better drainage for summer flooding.
“I would think short term, we need to make this a priority,” Duran said. “And then we need a design. Last time we didn’t spend the money upfront to come up with solutions.”
Other council members commented that the neighborhood sits in a relatively flat area, so part of the issue might be that the driveways are lower than the roadway. However, Blakeman said that some of the original owners of the homes on Birch Street have said the drainage was never an issue until 2003.
“This was not an original problem with when the houses were built or the streets were put in,” Blakeman said. “But something happened around 2003, and it’s been an issue for 20 years.”
Another resident pointed to some of the developments in the neighborhood since then, and Craig Mayor Ryan Hess said there has been a lot of development and paving around the neighborhood over the past several years.
City officials said they could work with an engineer this year to design a better drainage solution. The design for the project could happen this year, but budgeting for the project would likely need to be considered for next year.
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