Rally for Street Flooding Relief Flows Into Council Meeting

first_imgA jeep comes to the aid of another vehicle stuck on a cross-street off West Avenue in July in Ocean City.A citizen campaign to urge the city to address street flooding problems in Ocean City continued Thursday night with seven people speaking at a City Council meeting.The property owners had been part of a grassroots meeting Wednesday night where about 40 people shared stories of moving cars, wading through floodwaters, dodging waves generated by passing vehicles, and trying to clean up after the waters recede.The meeting was organized by a subcommittee of the Fairness in Taxes group, and the attendees agreed that flooding has increased in recent years and that it can occur even on sunny days — with salt water bubbling up through storm drains. (Read more: Ocean City Residents Rally for Relief on Street Flooding.)The citizens who spoke on Thursday repeated some of the same frustrations and asked council members for a long-term plan to remediate flooding (“not a Band-Aid”) and for an ongoing maintenance plan.“What are we doing going forward, and how can I help?” 23rd Street resident Jackie Mittleman said.Mayor Jay Gillian responded to criticism of the city related to street flooding in a prepared “State of the City” address and in other remarks.“A primary focus of the capital plan is further road and drainage improvements throughout the city,” Gillian said. “I’d like to clear something up. This focus is not new. The first thing I did when I came to office was get the check valves installed that were called for in the Hatch Mott McDonald report. Thirty-one new valves were installed, and they’re being maintained.”“A few months later, the administration presented and City Council adopted the first formal capital plan for many years. That plan’s top priority was roads and drainage. We have not just recently added the word ‘drainage’ to appease somebody, and it’s ridiculous to suggest we have.”In his address (read full text), Gillian said every drainage area in the city has been rated on six criteria, and the ratings have been overlaid with road ratings to target “the areas where we can improve conditions for the most people.”He said bulkheads have been replaced and outfall capacity increased, among other improvements. He noted the completion of a major flood-remediation project in Merion Park and a planned one  on the north end, making use of “the biggest grant in the city’s history.”“As we did in Merion Park, we will bring in an outside consultant to advise us on planned improvements for the neighborhood between 29th and 34th streets from West Avenue to Bay Avenue,” Gillian said. “We intend to involve the neighborhood in these discussions and fund the improvements this year.”Councilman Keith Hartzell said that local knowledge of specific flooding patterns is essential to any successful project.“The people in the neighborhood have to be talked to,” he said. “We can’t know it all.”In public comment at the close of the meeting, Fairness in Taxes President Michael Hinchman asked City Council to draw circles on a map of the Top 10 drainage areas most in need of work and to publish the list.“There will be some parts of the city you can’t fix,” he said.Hinchman said it would be more transparent to publish that list as well.last_img read more