City identifies drainage issue plaguing homes

VERGENNES — Work has begun to correct longstanding drainage problems in the Crosby Farms development area, City Manager Mel Hawley told aldermen on at their Aug. 21 meeting.
Hawley said after a firm was hired to “televise” about 60 percent of the stormwater drainage systems, two blockages were found, some iron bars (known as rebar, which holds concrete in place) sticking into one 24-inch pipe, and a 15-by-6-inch stone in another drainage pipe.
Also, he said, an “overflow structure” that serves a detention pond was found to be installed at too high a level, causing the system to back up during severe rain. The blockages were dealt with, Hawley said, and the overflow structure will be replaced and lowered. 
Many residents in the area have experienced severe flooding of their basements, especially in the past several years, during heavy rains.
Per state law, municipalities become stormwater permit holders for developments after a certain number of years; Vergennes now holds the permits for the Crosby Farms and Booska Court areas, and homeowners have turned to the city for relief.
Work was delayed while the issue was studied and the possibility of poor system design was evaluated, but Hawley said officials are happy now to be able to help beleaguered homeowners.
“Some of the people in there can’t sleep at night when rain is forecast,” he said.
Hawley said he and public works head Jim Larrow are not assuming all the problems have been solved, and more will be done. The investigation started at the bottom, northern end of the system, and workers will continue into the development looking for more problems, as well as see if run-off from the private school at the southern end might be contributing to problems.
“The next step is to work our way into the middle of the development,” Hawley said.
Emails to and a meeting with affected homeowners are also planned, in which Hawley told aldermen he would give an optimistic message.
“I think we’re on the right course here,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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