Drainage systems in need of repair in the township may not be complete until the end of the year or 2015 due to staff shortages, weather conditions and funding issues, township officials said.
“It’s obviously something we’d like to be able to take care of in a much-quicker fashion, but it’s a matter of staffing and dollars and cents,” said Trustee Tom Costello. “We have to do it as our budget allows to keep the public safe.”
Road Superintendent Larry Wilson said about 100 catch basins are in need of repair, as well as one culvert on West Parkside Drive. Catch basins catch rainwater as it runs down a street, whereas culverts direct water from one area to another.
An engineer’s survey by MS Consultants of Youngstown found that culvert pipes under West Parkside were in danger of collapsing, leading to the road department’s decision July 18 to close the road until the pipes can be repaired.
Kathy Miller, a former trustee and resident of Creston Drive, has been critical of the township’s handling of the issue, saying the road department and trustees have taken too long to address it. Miller said there are a number of collapsing catch basins in her neighborhood, near Crystal and Spring Garden drives.
“Things just don’t get done until there’s a crisis,” Miller said. “[There are] a lot of things that need repaired, and they need to take care of it. There’s just no excuse.”
Wilson said, however, the department is actively working to repair catch basins and the West Parkside culvert system.
“Our winter was extended by two months this year, which just set our normal activities back,” Wilson said. “We’re out there working on it every day.”
He said the winter and spring weather conditions set the department back about 21/2 months, but that they have a list of catch basins to repair and are working on it.
Township Administrator Jason Loree said another cause of the delay was staff shortages in the road department.
“We have been working with less people,” Loree said. “We just want people in the community to know we are working on our list, where we’re doing things in priority and in conjunction with the weather.”
Costello said the trustees have been in contract negotiations with the union that represents employees in the road department since January, and that they have delayed hiring new staff until they resolve the contract issues.
Costello said he expects the negotiations to wrap up within the next two weeks.
Wilson said the rainy weather has been slowing down their progress on fixing catch basins and that he does not expect to be caught up on that work until the end of this year. As for the culvert, the road department is waiting to hear back from the Ohio Public Works Commission about getting emergency funding for the repair.
“We’d like to think it is [likely to get funding]. They say they like to fund things that have already collapsed,” Wilson said, adding he expects to get the final word from the OPWC within a week.
If the township does get funding, the department will proceed with the process of bidding out the project, which already has been planned by MS Consultants, to a contractor. If the commission says no, the project would be stalled for quite some time while the department applies for other funding options, Wilson said.
“That would stall the project until July of next year. So we could possibly have that portion of the road closed for up to a year,” he said.
Costello and Wilson said the West Parkside culvert is the only one they know of that needs to be fixed.