Concerns raised over London sewer progress

Two London residents affected by recent flooding returned to the city council over continued concerns that Graham Avenue has not received enough attention by service workers.

Teresa Hennis and Jerry Bales, neighbors on the London southside street, told council they hadn’t seen much work in their area and wanted to know what progress was being made on clogs in some storm drains near their property.

“Basically it’s the same issue we talked about last time,” she said. “As of that last meeting we’ve been seeing the same things. We have been looking at the storm drains on Riley and Stewart: same trash, same branches are all still there.”

They even took pictures to back up their claims.

She did note she noticed a company using a camera to scope the drains on Thursday.

“I know you can’t do everything all at once,” she said. “I know you don’t have all the things, as we talked, to do the major things that have to be done. But [we’re asking for] just simple maintenance, some clean up to get these things out of there.”

Bales was, to his own admission, less forgiving and wondered why nothing had been done to clean out the drain near Graham.

“I need more confidence in you guys,” he said. “I’m sorry but I’m not patient. That storm sewer we were talking about on Stewart and Riley still has the same twigs and lint, it’s been there for two weeks.”

Bales said it’s not just about him as he could easily leave, he said he was coming out for those who couldn’t afford to leave the area and were still dealing with floods.

London Mayor Pat Closser said he was sympathetic to their plight, mentioning that they had done a lot of other work but that the process was slow.

He did, however, list off areas where the city was either performing work or were assessing future work to prevent the flooding from being nearly as dire.

At Jacqueline Drive, Graham and Garfield Avenues along with Elm, High and Center Streets, the city has cleaned out catch basins for storm water and either replaced tiles used to divert water or is looking to see if they need to replace them soon.

He added they’ve been assessing the creek in the area by Jacqueline and were going to see if Madison Health could help pay to clear it out.

Drains under the bike trail near State Route 665 were found to have concrete thrown into them.

Near Mariemont and Graceland Avenues he said they also found significant dumping into the drains.

“It’d be nice if the citizens would help out a little bit,” he said. “Don’t throw leaves in the gutter; don’t blow your grass into the thing. We got a huge problem where people are dumping asphalt over storm sewers.”

The mayor said the road material was found in the sewer near Graceland Avenue and the pieces removed ended up filling a one-ton truck.

“Somebody’s driveway got chipped up and they took all the big chunks and threw it in the ditch right there,” he added.

Hennis said she concurred that there were people who didn’t care about the effects of their actions in the sewers, noting she’s seen children throw bicycle parts down sewers.

Closser again pushed council to set up a fund to hire a storm sewer foreman through a Storm Water utility fee that would be collected with other city utilities. The city will be required to have one by the time the population reaches 10,000, which is likely to occur in 2020. He added he was told that the village of Mount Sterling, almost a tenth of London’s population, already had such a utility.

Council member Rex Castle said he appreciated the public coming in and voicing their concerns, a sentiment echoed by all of council, some of whom said they were concerned people hadn’t shown up before.

“This is the second time in a row we’ve had interaction with citizens of the town. It’s usually just us in council and workers from the city,” he said. “I appreciate you coming, at least I do, and bringing your questions and concerns. You’re being heard.”

He added that he empathized with those hit by the flooding citing his own experience, but noted that the city was working as fast as it could.

“I’ve only been on council four or five years,” he said. “I was astonished at the speed of government. It is not very fast. I’ll be honest with you, it takes time to get things done.”

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Resident return with grievances over flood debris

By Maximilian Kwiatkowski

Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, or on Twitter @msfkwiat.