By JESSICA HARDIN
After the May 28 rain event again revealed the inadequacy of Boardman’s stormwater infrastructure, affected residents demanded evidence of the township’s flood-mitigation efforts at Monday’s trustee meeting.
Bobbie Hosa asked trustees if anyone has gone behind her home on Glenwood Avenue to observe the flooding issues.
“You could have gone canoeing,” Hosa said of the stream behind her house known as the “Boardman ditch.”
Barb Davis and her neighbors have started referring to their street as “Wildwood River.”
“Have you ever slept in a place with sewer water?” Judy Peyko asked. “I can’t continue on like this. I need to know what the plan is,” Peyko said.
The township’s solution is the ABC Water and Stormwater District. The district, which launched in January, collected its first utility fee in May. It is expected to collect about $900,000 annually from Boardman residents’ stormwater utility fees.
The district’s first task is to create a stormwater master plan, said Jason Loree, township administrator and Boardman’s representative on ABC’s board. ABC stands for Austintown, Boardman and Canfield, the three communities in the district.
The plan will evaluate the area’s flood plains and watersheds and guide execution of the district’s remediation projects. But it will be years before effects of the district’s projects are felt in the community.
Residents asked what trustees could do to minimize flooding in the meantime.
Multiple people brought up the issue of excessive blacktopping in the township.
David Moliterno, who owns Moliterno Insurance and Financial Services, was concerned about the development of the property that will become home for a Meijer’s store.
“My clients [across the street] are scared to death they’ll have a flood come and wipe them out,” Moliterno said.
Township leaders said there is little they legally can do.
“We can’t put a moratorium on development,” said Krista Beniston, zoning and development director. But, the township is in the midst of revising the zoning code, which includes measures that govern parking lot creation.
Beniston noted that residents can get involved in the process by attending public meetings and submitting thoughts via a survey online at www.buildingabetterboardman.com.
Multiple residents also questioned how the township can prevent the illegal dumping of grass clippings into the sewers.
“As a group, we should be able to go up to these businesses and say, ‘Hey, look, this has got to stop,’” said Bobbi Terwilliger.
Trustee Tom Costello urged residents to report the dumping of clippings and leaves into streets and storm sewers.
Township representatives also explained some of the obstacles it faces in managing stormwater, such as soil quality.
Last year was the wettest year on record. So the soil, which is already mostly clay, is saturated, they said.
“It acts like a paved surface because it’s so wet,” said road Superintendent Marilyn Kenner.
Residents also conveyed a desire to act in their own capacity in tandem with the utility district.
Laura DiPiero suggested that residents plant trees that absorb water. “There are things we can do, but it really has to involve everybody,” she said.
Tim Myers, whose Lisbon home was destroyed by a flood, beseeched his fellow residents to get political.
“I’m going to start writing letters tonight. I’m telling you, write a letter and send it. It makes a difference,” he said.
Despite the evident frustration, Trustee Larry Moliterno thanked residents for their participation and willingness to work together for a solution.
“It’s a 20-year issue that’s not going to be fixed overnight and we get that,” Terwilliger said.
ABC’s next meeting is at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Canfield Township hall.