Carnegie officials want help with recurring flooding and other issues that may be connected to a recent stream removal project at Carnegie Park.
"Our residents are suffering and we need to get [Alcosan and the contracted engineers and construction company] involved. It's just been a nightmare, one thing after another," manager Jeffrey Harbin said Friday, a few hours after council had signed a letter demanding answers from those parties.
Local officials were spurred to do so after about a dozen Franklin Avenue residents came to council's Aug. 13 meeting with their concerns about last year's stream removal project, which they contend has led to flooding and other problems at their homes, including foundation and structural issues.
The residents believe the project is responsible for basement sewer flooding on Washington Avenue, too, because such problems had not been reported in their area before the project took place.
But Nancy Barylak, manager of public relations for Alcosan, said removal of the sanitary sewer from the storm sewer was necessary to reduce the amount of flow treated by the sanitary authority and to prevent basement backups.
The work, which involved separating combined storm and sanitary sewers, was mandated by a 2008 consent decree. Alcosan did the preliminary and final engineering work, but bid out the construction, which went to Allison Park Contracting. Gateway Engineers, Carnegie's contracted engineering firm, was the project's construction manager.
The project started in 2010 and flooding reports began in 2011, Mr. Harbin said.
Resident Sandra Zielinski said she has spent nearly $30,000 for waterproofing and for new roofing and gutters, but continues to have repeated flooding that has resulted in mold and structural problems at her house.
"It's a mess. Nobody has done anything to help us," she said, adding, "I don't sleep at night. I have nightmares of water and mold." She brought in photographs of her property to show officials.
Another resident, Cynthia Pierce, displayed a 2-foot-by-2-foot plot of grass that showed white and withered blades and emitted an odd smell. She requested a landscaper.
Mrs. Barylak noted that grass reseeding has been de-layed by unfavorable weather this summer, but assured that it would be done by fall.
About eight homes are being impacted from the $800,000 stream removal project. Built in the 1950s, the homes are located along a quiet, sloping hillside on Franklin, not on the low-lying flat section. As little as an inch of rain can bring water over the curbs, prompting some residents to wonder if higher curbs would help. But others questioned whether the grading or excavation is incorrect or if the storm sewers are located too close to homes.
Though some officials weren't sure what to do because the stream removal project was not handled by Carnegie, a strong statement by Cheryl Stephan of California Avenue compelled them to back up the affected homeowners.
Mayor Jack Kobistek later described the situation this way: "This entire project has been a nightmare for the residents on Franklin. In my opinion, the people involved have not shown any compassion towards the residents' issues or displayed any sense of urgency to correct the problems. I would like to know how they would feel if these problems were happening to their homes."
Noting that Franklin Avenue has always been a pleasant neighborhood, Mr. Harbin agreed, stating, "We need somebody to step forward to make our residents whole again."
Though Alcosan will continue to monitor Franklin Avenue, Mrs. Barylak added, "At the end of the day, the responsibility of the issue will rest with the contractor."
She said Allison Park Contracting was paid about $660,000 for its work. The company did not respond to a request for a comment.neigh_west
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: email@example.com.