Flooding issues worry Oakdale business owners

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After Oakdale’s second major flood in nine years, the owners of Huckleberry’s Grocery & Deli called it quits in July.

Now, a new convenience mart and deli is in the works in the former Huckleberry’s space on Seminary Avenue, and the business owner, Bob Wagner of Green Tree, doesn’t want to risk his store being flooded.

"I just want to make sure there are steps taken to make sure it doesn't happen again,” Mr. Wagner said after the Oakdale council meeting last Thursday.

Mr. Wagner was among those gathered to discuss recurring flooding problems at the shopping plaza, which also includes a bank, a bar/restaurant and a dog groomer.

Borough attorney Vince Tucceri said several parties share responsibility for controlling storm water in the area—Oakdale, Allegheny County, plaza owner Leon Chiri and adjacent landowner Tom Robinson.

He recommended engineers cooperate to develop a plan of action.

"This may be the first time where we've had everybody together willing to work together to a common solution," Mr. Tucceri said.

Matt Prather of Sebring & Associates in Monroeville, the attorney for Mr. Chiri, said the shopping center floods every time there is a significant rain.

“I think it’s in the interest of everyone in the community that [in] this section of town, including Mr. Chiri’s property, we improve the storm water management facilities,” he said.

One concern has been water runoff from undeveloped land behind the shopping plaza due to land grading and stockpiles of dirt and asphalt.

In 2004, Mr. Robinson of Peters bought the former Joy Dog Food properties on Seminary and Union avenues.

Mr. Robinson’s lawyer, Chris Passodelis Jr. of Sherrard, German & Kelly of Pittsburgh, said engineers are reviewing grading plans and drainage issues, as requested in a Feb. 17 letter from borough engineer Rob Arnold.

“There is a lot that we are going to have to do here,” Mr. Passodelis said.

However, he said, due to other issues that cause water to flow downhill into Oakdale, “I don’t know if there’s anything that we can do that’s going to remove the risk of flooding” at the shopping plaza.

Mr. Tucceri said Oakdale and Allegheny County officials are prepared to address problems with catch basins believed to have contributed to flooding at the business plaza.

In August, Allegheny County and Oakdale cleaned out storm water drains on Seminary Avenue in South Fayette and Oakdale.

County Councilman Mike Finnerty attended last week's meeting, along with Kelly McLaughlin, head erosion and sediment control technician for the Allegheny County Conservation District.

Following heavy rains in September 2004 and July 2013, homes, businesses and borough buildings such as the Oakdale Community Center, 104 Seminary Ave., suffered major flood damage.

Some of the shopping plaza businesses reopened after the July flood—PNC Bank, Pepperoncini’s Pizza & Wing Pub and Graff’s Dog Grooming & Supplies.

Chiropractor Michael Clarkin moved his office to a different building on Union Avenue in Oakdale.

Next door, Huckleberry’s shuttered permanently.

Mr. Wagner has leased and begun renovating the former chiropractor and Huckleberry’s spaces, with plans to open a 3,700-square-foot convenience mart this year.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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