BERLIN – Residents of the Townes of Berlin townhouse development cannot maintain their stormwater ditches well enough to handle rainwater, they say, and have turned to the town of Berlin for help.
The homeowners’ association has attempted to clear up the problem of overgrowth on what they call a swale, and others describe as a ditch, that surrounds three sides of the community, but have been unsuccessful in getting the water to flow out of the ditch.
“We’ve spent several thousand dollars this year on the maintenance of that particular area,” reported Ron Facello, vice president of the Townes of Berlin homeowners’ association, to the Berlin Mayor and Council Monday night.
The problem has persisted.
“Our biggest concern is we have standing water on two of three sides,” Facello said.
Ditches are designed to hold water and let it percolate slowly into the soil.
After exhausting its own resources, the Townes of Berlin homeowner’s association contacted Berlin’s Public Works Department for assistance.
The homeowners’ association asked the town to attempt the clearing but public works staff could not get their equipment into the ditch because of surrounding trees.
“We would send the tractors back there as long as we have access,” Berlin Administrative Director Linda Bambary said after the meeting.
When asked for suggestions, Facello said, Berlin’s acting Superintendent of Public Works Wendell Purnell could offer little practical advice.
“He did not have any suggestions. His suggestion to me was to come before you all and ask for some help or guidance on what our next step should be,” Facello told the council.
Rainwater just does not drain from the subsidiary ditches to the main channel, he said, leaving water standing in the ditches.
“It’s there for several weeks after,” Facello said.
“You had a good amount of water the other day,” said Berlin Mayor Tom Cardinale.
Berlin Chief of Police Arnold Downing lives in a neighboring community and confirmed that the ditches are overgrown.
“The ditch itself is loaded with debris,” he said.
Ditches with undergrowth, such as shrubs, growing in them, like the West St. ditch, are harder to clean, Bambary said later.
The communities bordering the ditches own the stormwater structures.
“It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the ditch unless the mayor and town council include it with the main ditches,” Bambary said.
The Townes of Berlin homeowners’ association will have to make a formal request for the town to take over maintaining the stormwater ditches.
If the council approved the request, it could decide to do so free of charge to the development or to charge them part or all of the cost.
The town will then do a survey and check the flow of water in the ditch to determine the work to be done to get the water to move.
According to Facello, some trees have been cut to allow equipment to reach the ditch, but if more work is needed than the public works department can do with its equipment, the town will have to bid out the ditch clearing work.
The mayor offered to bring the matter before the Berlin infrastructure committee as well at its next meeting.
Councilman Elroy Brittingham urged the mayor to bring the Townes of Berlin ditches to the committee’s attention before its next meeting on May 5.
“This committee is the kind of committee who goes out and looks,” Brittingham said.