People still angry about flooding, want solutions
By JESSICA HARDIN
ABC Water and Stormwater District’s promise of incremental change did little to alleviate the frustrations of Boardman and Canfield residents affected by the May 28 storm.
Judy Peyko of Boardman, a familiar face at meetings involving flooding, was left with a basement full of sewage during the devastating rain event.
At the district’s Tuesday afternoon meeting, she detailed the story of a neighbor whose baby had to be rescued during the flood.
“Are people going to have to die?” Peyko asked, with exasperation.
Barb Joyce of Boardman told the crowd that she fell in her flooded basement and got pneumonia in the hospital.
The district has a plan for fixing the area’s inadequate stormwater infrastructure, but updating the aging infrastrucure will be costly and slow.
“There is no way for me to fast forward ... I wish I could tell you why this stormwater utility district wasn’t started 20 years ago ,” said Jason Loree, Boardman Township administrator and the township’s representative on the ABC board.
Residents, such as Chester Kaschak of Canfield, are skeptical that the district will be a good steward of their tax dollars.
“I want to see the money spent properly. That’s my concern,” said Kaschak.
At the Tuesday meeting, the board approved the purchase of about $60,000 worth of equipment to monitor weather and rainfall amounts. The board also voted to create a master stormwater plan to help identify crucial flood remediation projects.
Kathy Miller, a former Boardman trustee, argued that this process duplicates plans that have been made before.
Loree explained that previous plans of the community do not represent the area in its entirety and often don’t include private property.
The district will not be limited in its survey of the township.
“There is so much understanding that needs to take place. To simply just go in and dig a hole somewhere is not going to be the solution,” Loree said.
But Peyko claimed that the $900,000 the township will collect from stormwater utility fees is “a slush fund for Boardman.”
Residents also questioned continued development in Boardman in spite of the antiquated and overburdened stormwater infrastructure.
“I’m looking for Boardman to stop all new construction until we get a handle on this,” said Peyko.
But multiple new projects are in the works in the township, including a Meijer store at the corner of U.S. Route 224 and Lockwood Boulevard.
In addition, the township recently sold the former fire station on Boardman-Poland Road, Loree confirmed.
When Miller asked why trustees didn’t build a detention pond on the fire station property, Loree said that the new owners will have to retro-fit the area anyway, which saves the township the cost of building detention.
In response to questions about development, township leadership said Monday that a moratorium on development is not possible.
They also noted that new development is required to put in stormwater containment systems for a 100-year rain event.
The larger burden on the stormwater system, Loree said, is the township’s old development, which was not required to give consideration to flood control.
“That’s the point of the district. To start helping this problem and be very specific to stormwater, because that’s something that’s been ignored completely,” said Loree.