Monday afternoon’s heavy rain caused anxiety levels to rise in Herkimer, particularly for residents who live on Bellinger Street and Park Place.
While the flooding was localized and the floodwaters receded almost as quickly as they rose, Park Place resident Jim Cimino said it is becoming all too common of an issue.
“Every time it rains for more than an hour it seems like we end up with floodwater that is about three feet deep,” Cimino said during Monday evening’s meeting of the Herkimer Village Board of Trustees. “Because of today’s rain two cars were lost in the street. They got swept away. If we hadn’t moved our cars, we would have lost both of them too.”
Cimino said since the late June and early July flooding that ravaged the Mohawk Valley he has replaced the furnace and hot water heater in his home.
“I can’t afford to do more,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where we can’t live in the house. The village has to do something to correct this problem.”
“Flooding on Bellinger Street has been an ongoing problem, but it has gotten ten times worse since the flood,” said Mayor Mark Ainsworth. “Every time there is heavy rain I am on the phone calling to see if Bellinger Street and other parts of the village are flooded, or I am out driving around to see the floodwaters for myself. It causes a lot of anxiety and I agree that something has to be done to correct the issue.”
Department of Public Works Superintendent Peter Macri said crews used cameras to view the drainage pipes to check for damage and jetted and cleaned the catch basins.
“The problem is old infrastructure. Compounding that problem is a pipe on Marginal Road that is damaged and is not allowing the water from the north end of the village to drain into the river, as it was designed to do. The pipe has to be replaced,” he said.
Macri said as the damaged draining pipe lies within the flood control governed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the village needs their approval to make the repair.
“I have set a deadline of the end of the week to hear from Corps of Engineers if we can proceed with the repair or not,” he said. “If we do not receive a response, I am prepared to move forward with a project to dig up the pipe and replace it, because it has to be taken care of. It’s not something that can wait, as it is a major problem for the village.”
Page 2 of 2 - “I understand the level of frustration everyone has, but contacting the Corps of Engineers is one of the hurdles the village must contend with as it looks to resolve this issue,” said Trustee Harold Stoffolano. “The village cannot just go into the flood control and dig up a pipe and replace it without the Corps’ approval, not unless it wants to open itself up to fines and a possible lawsuit, or both. Of course, the village could decide to take action and deal with the debt tomorrow. It’s a decision the village is going to have to make.”
Macri said the drainage pipe on Marginal Road is likely more than 100 years old and has been damaged by tree roots and other debris, which have caused the pipe to move.
“The water is not flowing out of it like it is supposed to,” he said.
Ainsworth said the village may have to consider issuing bonds to pay for repairs.
“The village may have to consider completing a project to address some of the hardest hit areas of the village,” he said. “The flooding on Bellinger Street is the worst I have ever seen it. The water never used to back all the way up the street before, but now it does. The village may have to look at combining a number of small projects into one larger project to address some of the infrastructure issues that have been identified and correct some of the flooding neighborhoods are experiencing.
In other business Monday evening, the board set the public hearing on the village’s proposed historic preservation ordinance for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21, at the municipal hall on Green Street.
The board approved a request from the Festival of Lights Committee to provide fire and police personnel for the Dec. 9 event in the Mini Park on the corner of West Smith and Williams streets. The annual Festival of Lights will begin at 7 p.m.
The board scheduled trick or treating for 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31. Ainsworth reminded residents taking their children trick or treating to only visit homes that have their porch lights on and to have their children walk in well-lighted areas and carry a flashlight light or glow stick to help them see and to be seen.