Mt. Lebanon commissioners hear flooding concerns, approve storm sewer project

Published Aug 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm (Updated Aug 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm)

Cedar Boulevard flooded briefly the day of the Aug. 12 Mt. Lebanon commissioners meeting and became a timely catalyst for some residents to express their concerns about future flooding.

Marty Murray, of 400 Cochran Road, said flooding in the past has sometimes been four feet deep. According to the Mt. Lebanon Fire department, Cedar Boulevard has flooded 12 times in the past 16 years.

“That is a crucial thoroughfare for our community,” Murray told the board.

“It flooded nine days ago as well ... what would happen if there’s an emergency and someone needs to get to the hospital?” Elaine Gillan, of 735 Vallevish Ave., asked. “With the construction going on there, we should have a temporary exit strategy.”

Dealing with future flooding issues, commissioner Dave Brumfield said the solution isn’t easy.

“It’s not obvious what to do, as we may create a bigger problem for other nearby residents in diverting the flood waters,” he said. “We have to carefully move forward and evaluate what to do there.” Consulting engineer Dan Deiseroth added that Cedar used to be a creek and “that area is going to flood at some point, regardless.”

In new business, the commissioners looked to abate flooding in the Altoona-Mapleton area after approving a sanitary storm sewer improvement project by a vote of 4-1. Commissioner John Bendel dissented, saying he would have voted for a more expensive bid to keep brick road instead of asphalt. The bid was awarded to A. Merante Contracting at a cost of $2,625,715.

“I believe there is value in preserving our brick streets, and a part of why people come to live here ... I believe we should start to preserve the character of the neighborhoods,” Bendel said.

Commissioners Brumfield, Steve Silverman and Kelly Fraash all commented that they could not vote in good conscience for a more expensive project considering other financial concerns in the municipality.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve incurring bond debts for capital projects. The total costs through parking, storm water and general funds are $4,214,764. The most expensive project, improvements to the parking garage, stands at $1,662,245; Longuevue Drive storm sewer improvements stand at $739,804; Marlin Mapleton storm sewer is the third most expensive project at $655,000. The municipal building roof, equipment purchases, Lindendale wall repairs and public safety center improvements rounded out the list.

Before the vote during public comment, Kimberly Schevchuck, of 519 Lyndhurst Ave., criticized the board for approving turf field construction.

“You are choosing to go over a million dollars in debt by choosing to use your resources on turf instead of essential needs,” she said, referring to the proposed capital projects.

Elaine Gillan also criticized the board.

“You have no business paying $800,000 for a turf field and then issuing a bond on stormwater management infrastructure (and collecting) a million a year in stormwater fees,” she said. “Moody’s downgraded us (to AA-2). You guys have really lost it.”

Before the meeting, several residents from Summer Place told the board they wanted the commissioners to take the private road and put it under public maintenance due to traffic volume. The commissioners said the road would have to be repaired to municipal standards before they could consider taking it over.

Phil Compton, of 913 Summer Place, said they’ve been making pleas all summer.

“We hope we’ve made rational arguments to you about the sheer amount of traffic ... we paid the cost in 1992 to repair the road only for the public to use it and tear it up. We don’t want to do it again.”

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