October 1, 2014

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Lorain Council set to OK study into stopping frequent flooding around Martin’s Run

LORAIN — A $300,000 flood prevention study is expected to be approved by the Lorain Council tonight.

Jim Szeto, left, of Ashland Avenue in Lorain, talks with Councilman Bret Schuster,  D-4th Ward, at Martin’s Run Creek on Saturday. Szeto’s home borders Martin’s Run, which is a flood-prone area. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

Jim Szeto, left, of Ashland Avenue in Lorain, talks with Councilman Bret Schuster, D-4th Ward, at Martin’s Run Creek on Saturday. Szeto’s home borders Martin’s Run, which is a flood-prone area. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

The study is designed to end chronic flooding from Martin’s Run Creek, much of which affects the 4th Ward.

“We’re going to have the study done and move forward to eliminate that problem,” 4th Ward Councilman Bret Schuster said at last week’s Streets and Sidewalks Committee meeting.

Martin’s Run is on the south side and begins south of Cooper Foster Road along state Route 2, draining into Lake Erie.

The study — which includes bidding and construction management, design work and easement acquisitions — would be done by CT Consultants, an Ohio-based municipal engineering company.

Mayor Tony Krasienko said the city’s drainage system cannot handle heavy rainstorms like those on Feb. 28 and April 15, but problems are receding. Krasienko said he grew up in a house on West 18th Street that consistently flooded, so he can empathize with affected residents.

However, Krasienko said flood prevention is hard. To comply with federal clean water laws, the city can no longer dump overflowing sewage into the Black River or Lake Erie, and Krasienko said taxpayers can’t afford the pipes needed to eliminate all flooding. Nonetheless, Krasienko said major flooding problems would be addressed over the next 20 years at a pace taxpayers could afford to meet.

“We want to solve this problem. We don’t want to leave it for the next generation,” he said. “We’ve made some significant strides, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Krasienko said he and Council members are constantly taking complaints about flooding during rainstorms, but Mary Ivan-Garza, Utilities Department environmental and safety manager, said complaints are down in recent years. Flooding claims are also down, according to Law Director Pat Riley.

Riley said in the last two major rainstorms before he took over as law director in 2009, there were about 300 claims compared to a total of about 20 after the Feb. 28 and April 15 flooding. Riley noted that since 1980, the city has spent $92 million to alleviate flooding.

“We are amazed by the lesser number of claims,” Riley said. “There must be some cause and effect in the substantial monies the city has invested.”

Resident John Wargo, of the 2100 block of West 14th Street, was frustrated to hear about the study because it will not alleviate flooding problems in his neighborhood, which he blamed on the city and a developer not cleaning a retention pond near his home.

“It’s not just Martin’s Run. It’s citywide,” Wargo said of flooding problems. “But you’re focusing on one little spot.”

Schuster, who chairs the committee, said residents like Wargo have a right to be frustrated, but he believes the Krasienko administration and Council are addressing the problem citywide.

“We all share the pain,” he said. “Hopefully in the near future we will be able to alleviate a lot of these problems.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.