Council Puts Brakes on $44,720 Review of Street Flooding From 26th to 34th Streets

first_imgBarricades block access to Simpson and Haven avenues at 32nd Street in Ocean City on Thursday morning — a common precaution in many storms each year.City Council voted Thursday to table a resolution that would have awarded a $44,720 contract to Michael Baker International Company to come up with a plan to address drainage problems in one of Ocean City’s most flood-prone neighborhoods.The resolution would have authorized a professional services contract for an engineering review of the low-elevation area bounded by 26th and 34th streets, West Avenue and Bay Avenue.But in public comment before the discussion, a leader of a citizen group advocating for more spending to fix street flooding asked City Council to pull the measure (along with a separate resolution approving an $80 million plan for capital improvements over the next five years).Suzanne Hornick, vice chair of the O.C. Flooding subcommittee of Fairness in Taxes and a property owner in the project area, asked the city to provide a comprehensive plan for all drainage improvements and to include public input “before you spend one cent of my tax dollars.”Hornick had pointed out a discrepancy in documentation provided by the engineering company that listed the project area as 26th Street to 30th Street (not 26th Street to 34th Street as listed in the resolution).Mike Dattilo, assistant to Mayor Jay Gillian, later said the Baker documentation was in error and that a corrected copy had been forwarded to council members.Councilman Mike DeVlieger — who had met with the street flooding subcommittee along with Councilman Antwan McClellan, Councilman Pete Madden and Councilman Mike Allegretto — said he would “grant a wish” to Hornick, if a short delay would help answer any questions about the project. He made the motion to table the resolution and said it could be re-introduced within a few weeks.Councilman Keith Hartzell also argued for delaying the vote.He said he’s been “besieged by phone calls” since the city decided to ask for the engineering study in a neighborhood where many property owners have complained about conditions that have worsened in recent years.“Everybody now feels their flooding should be fixed immediately,” Hartzell said. “It’s created a competition that I think is just going to get worse.”Hartzell said he wants to make sure the city is addressing the worst areas first.Others argued for proceeding with the vote.“It’s an ideal situation for us to go out there and see exactly what we need to do,” Councilman Pete Guinosso said. “We’re going in the right direction, and we have the right place.”“This is a first step that we’re going to need regardless (of whether the project area is deemed the worst in town),” Dattilo said.Gillian also argued for proceeding with the vote.“We’ve been looking at this area a long time,” Gillian said. “At the end of the day, we get elected to do a job, and my job as mayor is to fix the flooding.”“I don’t have the luxury of worrying about just one house,” he said. “I have to look at the whole community.”The proposed engineering work would include field visits, a review of existing conditions, preparation of a report (including estimated costs, design schedules, permitting requirements), presentation of recommendations to the public and project management.Baker is the same firm that met with neighbors, conducted a study and made recommendations for improvements in the nearby Merion Park neighborhood, where a comprehensive drainage project that included pumping stations was recently completed.The new project area sits in a low-lying corridor that includes Haven and Simpson avenues and routinely floods — not only in storms and tidal events, but in heavy rain and even on sunny days (with tidal waters flowing backwards through the storm drain system).The project is part of the first year of a five-year capital improvement plan, and the recommendations from Baker would be complete in the spring.The vote to table the resolution passed, 6-1, with Guinosso dissenting.Hornick spoke in public comment at the end of the meeting and emphasized that her subcommittee is “not playing favorites” when it comes to which street-flooding projects come first. She was asked to leave the podium because meeting rules prevent citizens from speaking on the same topic twice._____Sign up for free breaking news updates from Ocean City.Get Ocean City updates in your Facebook news feed. “Like” us._____last_img read more

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