Opinions divided in North Huntingdon over who should pay to alleviate flooding

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Several residents came to the North Huntingdon commissioners' meeting Wednesday night to ask for help in paying for work to eliminate flooding along Roth Drive.

Steve Reese, at the meeting with his wife, said water flows into his backyard, down the side of his house and into his front yard.

"We were given a bid of $68,000 to fix the problem," he said during the meeting. "My front yard is currently under water."

Though the water hasn't flowed into the house yet, Mr. Reese said he is concerned that it will.

Township officials said the problem started years ago when individuals used their own pipe to put parts of a flowing stream that is a tributary of Long Run underground.

Andy Blenko, township engineer and director of planning, said the pipe needs to be 48 inches in diameter to hold the stream, but some of it is only two feet in diameter, leading to flooding.

The pipes don't belong to the township, commissioners said.

Township resident Michael Eric Hornyak said he feels the water that runs across Roth Drive and into residents' yards is "township water" because it runs across a public street.

The water is only running across the street because a private pipe is failing, township officials said.

Commissioner Rich Gray asked Mr. Hornyak if the township fixes the Roth Drive flooding problem, what he thinks should be done for 15 homeowners downstream who have seen much more serious flood damage over the years.

Fixing the Roth Drive flooding problem could open a "Pandora's box" of everybody in North Huntingdon expecting the township to pay to fix their privately owned pipes, he said.

Mr. Blenko said there are two solutions to the problem: to bring the stream back up to the surface, or to replace the pipe with one large enough to hold the stream.

John Shepherd, township manager, said the township has offered to pay for survey costs, right-of-way acquisition fees, the cost of recording rights of way, and for design and engineering for the Roth Drive pipe replacement project, if homeowners in the area pay for the pipe.

In that case, the township would also pay to maintain the pipe in perpetuity, he said.

On Wednesday, a vote for the township to pay all expenses to replace the Roth Drive stream pipes failed in a 3-3 tie. Commissioners Rich Gray, Zach Haigis and Brian West voted against financing the whole project, while commissioners Tony Martino, Donald Austin and Dave Herold voted for it.

There are several options possible, Mr. Shepherd said. He said commissioners will have to find out what families in the area are willing to do to help resolve the problem.

neigh_westmoreland

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com


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