Stormwater committee meets

Retention sites, PUB contracting discussed

PARKERSBURG — The city’s Stormwater Committee looked over possible sites for retention systems and discussed contracting with the Parkersburg Utility Board to clear blocked and damaged lines during its second meeting Tuesday.

An item on the agenda to consider a budget revision to fund more than $500,000 in stormwater projects was removed last week at the request of Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce, who wanted to wait until the full carryover amount from fiscal 2017-18 is proposed.

At the meeting’s designated 4 p.m. start time, only two of the five City Council members were present, meaning there was not a quorum. Since there were five area residents in attendance, Chairman Dave McCrady proposed moving forward with the scheduled discussion items for informational purposes only.

At the September meeting, the administration proposed installing stormwater retention structures beneath a city-owned lot in the Washington Avenue and Elm Street area to help prevent overflows during heavy rain events. Council members asked City Engineer Adam Stout to look at parcels owned by the Urban Renewal Authority to see if other locations could be similarly used.

On Tuesday, Stout brought back four sites – 1601 Staunton Ave., 820 Wood St., 1110 E. 12th St. and 1310 Avery St. – that are in the vicinity of storm sewers. None of them are in the areas officials identified as priorities because of known damage or potential failures, but “anything we can do to take some pressure off the outfalls is” helpful, Stout said.

McCrady noted the lack of a camera system to assess what blockages or damage exist in a line and the city’s aging hydraulic excavator, or “vac,” truck, which is not equipped to cut roots in the lines, provide a challenge to doing regular maintenance to stay on top of stormwater issues.

“We don’t know whether we’re doing any good or not because we don’t know the shape it was in before,” Public Works Director Everett Shears said.

The Parkersburg Utility Board has provided a camera and vac truck when available, but Joyce, the PUB chairman, said the utility does that on its own time and expense. It would be easier to schedule that work if the utility was compensated, he said.

The PUB proposed a rate of $125 an hour for the camera truck and $100 an hour for the vac truck. Joyce said that’s a much lower rate than the private contracting quote the city got for $425 an hour for such work.

PUB Manager Eric Bennett said ultimately it would be best for the city to have its own equipment but the utility will help as much as it can.

“At this point, you also need to take baby steps and not start running,” he said.

Bennett also noted that some cities have stormwater fees, but that has not been proposed by the administration.

“Why can’t we use the user fee to pay for some of this equipment?” Parkersburg resident Leo Chaddock asked.

Joyce said that money is dedicated to the police and fire departments, as well as paving.

“What about the extra penny they put on taxes?” Chaddock said, referring to the municipal sales tax.

Joyce said the stormwater meeting was not the place to dig into the budget, but that council would be making a decision about funding the stormwater initiatives in the near future.

Chaddock said he is particularly concerned about the drainage around 23rd Street and Park Avenue, which causes stormwater to back up and overflow near his residence and properties he owns on 17th Street. That is one of nine projects identified by the administration, with an estimated cost of $30,000.

The proposed $523,000 budget revision would have addressed funding for some of those projects, although the total cost is estimated at $730,000.

Although Councilman Zach Stanley joined McCrady and Councilman Jeff Fox halfway through the meeting, it was never officially called to order, which apparently wasn’t necessary because there were no action items on the agenda. Councilmen J.R. Carpenter and Mike Reynolds were also absent.