Highland News Leader

City to study Highland decades-old storm-water project left unfinished

Mike Gilomen believes a manhole, located in a parking lot across the street from his property at 511 12th Street, is the root of the on flash flooding problem. During the Aug. 4-5 rain, that manhole cover blew off, sending water several feet in the air, he says.
Mike Gilomen believes a manhole, located in a parking lot across the street from his property at 511 12th Street, is the root of the on flash flooding problem. During the Aug. 4-5 rain, that manhole cover blew off, sending water several feet in the air, he says. News Leader

The city of Highland will hire an engineer to analyze a 1993 storm-water project that was never completed.

On Monday night, the City Council revisited a 22-year-old project that had only two of its three phases completed. The project has been left unfinished due to the lack of funding, City Manager Mark Latham said.

The issue was brought back to the council for its consideration after Mike Gilomen, who lives on 518 Broadway, informed the city that his rental home at 511 12th St. had around 30 inches of storm-water in its basement after a 4.5 inch rain Aug. 5 and 6.

Gilomen said he had 64 inches of water in his basement following an April 18, 2013 rain.

Gilomen offered his rental house to the city on Monday night.

“If they want to build a retention pond that holds and releases slowly, so they don’t have to replace the pipe, I really don’t care,” he said.

At a bare minimum, Gilomen asked the city to secure a manhole that is located on a parking lot adjacent to his rental property.

During the Aug. 4-5 rain, that manhole cover blew off, sending water shooting several feet in the air, and ended up flooding his basement.

“When the (manhole) lid blows off, the flood occurs in minutes and even with four sump pumps in the basement,” he said.

Gilomen said the city also needs to install flash flooding warning signs on 12th and 13th streets.

Options

Latham recently said the remaining phase from the project is not an easy fix, and the city has a few options to consider.

One option would be to finish installing a larger storm-water pipe in the 500 block of 12th and 13th streets. Such a pipe would cost the city around $1 million to install, Public Works Director Joe Gillespie said.

The second option would be for the city to purchase Gilomen’s house at 511 12th St., and Tracy Schumacher’s residence at 613 13th St. Both of these homes have windows below street level.

Don Augustin, who owns a large green barn at 419 12th St., said the city has to do something to rectify the situation.

Augustin said while his garage has never flooded since he bought it in 1976, he said the area’s storm- water problem has developed over a period of time.

“When I owned the house at 511 12th St., there wasn’t too much of a storm-water problem,” he said. “But 12th Street was not paved at the time. Now, every time a big rain happens, there is less absorption, and there is more water run-off.”

Augustin said he remembers questioning the project engineer when the first started to make repairs to the storm-water more than two decades ago.

“I remember telling the engineer at the time, ‘I’m not an engineer. I’m just a mechanic. But when you have a problem with inflow, you don’t make a pipe bigger in the middle. You make the pipe bigger at the end,’ ” he said.

Augustin said the storm-water pipe worked, but only “for a while.”

Gilomen and Schumacher filed claims against the city in 2013 after the 4.41 inch rain on April 18, 2013 flooded their homes.

The city denied the claims, saying their storm-water problems were caused by an Act of God, Latham said.

Gilomen disagrees, saying man was the cause.

“An Act of God only works up to the point when you interfere with God’s will… God gave us the (Laurel) Branch, not undersized storm sewers.”

Schumacher wishes the city would buy her house, which she has owned since 1987.

“I have had to purchase two new water heaters and install two new electric boxes in the past 27 months after my crawl space flooded,” she said. “I’m tired of this.”

Other City Council News

At its Oct. 5 meeting, the Highland City Council also:

▪ Agreed to spend up to $365,000 to improve controls at the Power Plant.

“That should facilitate quicker response in the event of a future need for generator plant operation during a total power outage,” Highland Light and Power director Dan Cook said.

▪ Approved allocating an additional $60,000 to the city’s Home Buyer Program, which provides a $3,000 forgivable loan for home purchases in “historic Highland.”

The program is only 2 months old, but through Sept. 30, approximately 40 percent of the funds initially earmarked for the program had been distributed.

“Realtors need to be able to market the down payment assistance, and additional funds are necessary in order for the continued success of the program,” said Lisa Peck, the city’s economic development and marketing coordinator.

The “historic” area of the city eligible for the program has borders of Hemlock on the west, Poplar Street on the east, Sixth Street on the north and 21st Street on the south.

▪ Approved the News Leader’s request to hold a Trick or Treat Trail on Friday, Oct. 23 on the Public Square from 2 to 6 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the Trick or Treat Trail will be held on Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

▪ Approved holding a Veterans Day parade on Sunday, Nov. 8, starting at 2 p.m. The parade is sponsored by Highland Moose Lodge 2479, in coordination with VFW Post 5694 and American Legion Post 439.

▪ Approved appointments of Tina Huck, Erin Mignin and Benjamin Voytas to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.

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